About ear health

Healthy ears and hearing is important to health and quality of life. Poor ear health and hearing loss can have an impact on many aspects of our lives, including education, employment and wellbeing.

Ear health in Australia

In Australia:

  • about 3.6 million people have some level of hearing loss
  • more than 1.3 million people live with a hearing condition that could have been prevented
  • more than 1 in 3 Australians have noise-related ear damage
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children have a much higher rate of ear disease than other children, which can result in hearing loss.

As Australia’s population ages, we expect the number of people with a hearing impairment to double to an estimated 7.8 million people in 2060.

Read about what we're doing to reduce the incidence and consequences of avoidable hearing loss in Australia.

About hearing loss

Hearing loss is a reduced ability to hear. It ranges from mild to complete hearing loss.

Many factors can cause hearing loss, including:

  • age – hearing loss increases from about half of those aged 60 to 70, to 70% of those aged 70 and over, and 80% of those aged 80 and over
  • exposure to loud noise – this is often preventable
  • untreated ear disease
  • genetics.

Know Your Noise

This website provides information about noise and how it can affect your hearing health. Find out if the noise at your work or other places is putting you at risk of hearing damage. You can also take a hearing test to check if you have hearing loss.

Impacts of hearing loss

Poor ear and hearing health is a serious problem that can have profound lifelong consequences. Many ear diseases and conditions can affect ear health, and lead to hearing loss.

Hearing loss can:

  • affect a child’s ability to listen, learn and talk
  • result in lower school attendance
  • affect a person’s ability to get an education and find work
  • affect social and emotional wellbeing, including a higher risk of low self-esteem, low confidence, memory loss and depression
  • lead to social isolation.

Finding support

For more information or to find support, see:

State and territory children hearing services

Find out what government-funded hearing services support is available in your state or territory:

Face masks and hearing loss

Face masks can create challenges for people with hearing loss. To make it easier:

  • make sure hearing aids are turned on
  • keep background noise to a minimum
  • use a mask that has a transparent window, to enable lip reading
  • speak slowly and clearly
  • rephrase the sentence when not understood
  • communicate in writing
  • use a translation app.

If you have a hearing device:

  • be gentle when putting on or removing a face mask
  • avoid pulling on the straps, to prevent dislodging your hearing device
  • wear a mask with adjustable fabric ties rather than elastic
  • use a mask holder on the back of your head.

If you are communicating with someone who has hearing loss and needs to see your lips, you can remove your mask. Follow the COVID-19 related guidance to protecting yourself and others

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