1. Hearing loss is a major public health issue that is the third most common physical condition after arthritis and heart disease.

  2. Gradual hearing loss can affect people of all ages -- varying from mild to profound. Hearing loss is a sudden or gradual decrease in how well you can hear. Depending on the cause, it can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

  3. Degrees of hearing loss: mild, moderate, severe, profound.

  4. Congenital hearing loss means you are born without hearing, while gradual hearing loss happens over time.

  5. Hearing loss is an invisible condition; we cannot see hearing loss, only its effects. Because the presence of a hearing loss is not visible, these effects may be attributed to aloofness, confusion, or personality changes.

  6. In adults, the most common causes of hearing loss are noise and aging. There is a strong relationship between age and reported hearing loss.

  7. In age-related hearing loss, known as presbycusis, changes in the inner ear that happen as you get older cause a slow but steady hearing loss. The loss may be mild or severe, and it is always permanent.

  8. In older people, a hearing loss is often confused with, or complicates, such conditions as dementia.

  9. Noise-induced hearing loss may happen slowly over time or suddenly. Being exposed to everyday noises, such as listening to very loud music, being in a noisy work environment, or using a lawn mower, can lead to hearing loss over many years.

  10. Sudden, noise-induced hearing loss from gunfire and explosions is the number one disability caused by combat in current wars.

  11. More often than not severe tinnitus (or ringing in the ears) will accompany the hearing loss and may be just as debilitating as the hearing loss itself.

  12. Other causes of hearing loss include earwax buildup, an object in the ear, injury to the ear or head, ear infection, a ruptured eardrum, and other conditions that affect the middle or inner ear.