How Hearing Changes With Age

As we age, our bodies change, and so do our physical capabilities - including hearing. Our ears contain many moving parts, such as the tympanic membrane (eardrum), ossicles (bones that transmit sound to the inner ear) and stereocilia (tiny hairs that move in response to sound and transmit nerve impulses to the brain).1, 2 

These internal structures can experience wear and tear over time. Physical trauma (such as over-exposure to loud noise), illness (such as Meniere’s Disease), neurological disorders and lifestyle factors (such as diet and exercise) can also cause changes to them. 

Age-related hearing changes include having trouble following conversations, difficulty making out consonants or hearing high-pitched sounds and even tinnitus (ringing in your ears).3 If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, we suggest reaching out to a hearing care professional as you may have some hearing loss.

Diet, Lifestyle and Fitness

We also know that lifestyle factors, including nutrition, physical activity and smoking, help determine your condition as you age. They impact disease risk and are determinants for cognitive decline and dementia.4 

Regarding hearing, ‘healthy ageing’ is the key, as it minimises exposure to the external, modifiable risk factors that can impact our health and hearing. Not smoking is critical; beyond the more obvious risks of cancer and respiratory disease, it can also cause cardiovascular disease.5 Cardiovascular disease, in turn, is a known risk factor for hearing loss.6 

Diet and exercise also play important roles in hearing health. A healthy diet will include essential nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, folate, potassium and B vitamins, that help maintain the inner ear’s delicate structures.7 

Similarly, regular exercise promotes cardiovascular health, which improves blood flow to the entire body, including all parts of the ear, promoting optimal functioning. 

Keep Your Hearing Young

The factors above suggest some of the critical steps we can all take to keep our hearing young: avoiding cigarettes and other forms of smoking; eating a balanced diet, ideally one that falls in line with the Australian Dietary Guidelines; and undertaking regular exercise appropriate to our age.8, 9

Hearing-specific steps include scheduling regular hearing checks; limiting the volume when listening to music or watching movies, TV and videos; using hearing protection (when necessary); avoiding noisy environments, and not attempting to clean your ears with items such as cotton buds.10 

Finally, visit your local Connect Hearing clinic to check your hearing, even if you think your hearing is fine. The team will pick up on any problems (or potential problems) and establish a set of baseline measurements to help with later checks. 


  1. Verywell Health [7 June 2022], The Anatomy of the Ear, Dotdash Meredith, accessed 26 April 2024. 
  2. Cleveland Clinic [18 August 2022], Ear, Cleveland Clinic, accessed 26 April 2024. 
  3. WebMD [24 April 2022], What Happens to Your Hearing as You Age, WebMD, accessed 26 April 2024. 
  4. The ASHA Leader [5 July 2021], The Role of Nutrition in Healthy Hearing, American Speech–Language–Hearing Association, accessed 26 April 2024.
  5. World Health Organization [17 June 2016], Effects of tobacco on health, World Health Organization, accessed 26 April 2024. 
  6. National Center for Biotechnology Information [20 January 2023], Relationship of cardiovascular disease risk and hearing loss in a clinical population, National Library of Medicine [US], accessed 26 April 2024. 
  7. Swift Audiology [n.d.], Enhancing Hearing Health: The Vital Role of Diet and Exercise, Swift Audiology, accessed 26 April 2024. 
  8. Eat for Health [n.d.], About the Australian dietary guidelines, Australian Government, accessed 26 April 2024. 
  9. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare [19 May 2023], Physical activity, Australian Government, accessed 26 April 2024.  
  10. El Dorado Hearing [18 March 2024], Tips To Keep Your Hearing Young, El Dorado Hearing, accessed 26 April 2024.