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According to the National Institute of Health, hearing loss is one of the most common conditions affecting older adults. Roughly one-third of Americans over age 65 have age-related hearing loss.

Aging is the most common cause of hearing loss, which usually becomes more noticeable after age 50. Also, men tend to be affected more often than women.

Symptoms of age-related hearing loss can include:

  • Difficulty hearing things in noisy areas.
  • Difficulty distinguishing high-pitched sounds from one another.
  • More difficulty hearing men’s voices than women’s voices.
  • Voices sound mumbled or slurred.
  • Ringing sounds in the ears.

Other causes of hearing loss include ear infections, tumors that damage certain nerves and some types of brain injury. Some people are born with hearing loss, or it can be inherited.

Hearing loss can be dangerous, especially when in or near traffic. For example, the inability to hear high-pitched tones, such as sirens from emergency response vehicles, especially among background noise like horns or railroad warnings, can put you and other road users at risk.

Treatment options for hearing loss depend on the cause. If it is treatable, yet ignored, it can get worse or become permanent. Hearing loss that is identified early might be helped through treatment, such as hearing aids, certain medicines or surgery. If you suspect you have hearing loss, visit your health care provider.