)) We hear when delicate hair cells in our inner ear vibrate, creating nerve signals that the brain understands as sound. But we can overload these hair cells just like we can overload an electrical circuit. )) Despite the association of hearing loss with age, loud noise is a big culprit. It can damage these hair cells, causing sensorineural hearing loss and often tinnitus (ringing in the ears). The cells in the inner ear that enable us to hear higher-frequency sounds clearly—like singing birds and children speaking—are typically the first to go. )) That’s one reason why people with undiagnosed hearing loss usually aren’t fully aware of what they’re missing. The ability to hear lower frequency sounds gives the illusion that their hearing is just fine, when it’s not. And the strain of listening may be putting an unnecessary burden on the individual’s cognition and quality of life. Why do we lose our hearing? Hearing loss that comes on suddenly should be treated urgently with an immediate visit to a doctor, preferably an ear, nose & throat specialist.