Hearing loss, also known as hearing impairment, is a sudden or gradual decrease in the ability to hear. Although hearing loss is especially common in older adults, it affects people of all ages, can range from mild to severe, and can be reversible, temporary, or permanent.
The most common causes of hearing loss are age and exposure to noise over a long period of time. People who have hearing loss are sometimes not aware of it, especially when the loss has developed gradually. Some people are born without hearing (congenital hearing loss).
Hearing loss can be conductive or sensorineural.
Hearing loss is sometimes reversible. If it is not, hearing aids and other devices can help the person adapt to reduced hearing and help make communication, social interaction, and work and leisure activities easier and more enjoyable.
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