What causes hearing loss? Though the culprits are varied and vast, any continuous issues with hearing should be addressed by your doctor. Addressing the problem first starts with determining the type of hearing loss. So what are the most common causes?
The 6 Most Common Causes of Hearing Loss:
- Age – Often called “presbycusis,” this type of hearing loss generally hits those over the age of 65. One in three Americans ages 65 to 74 experiences hearing loss, with the odds turning to one in two for Americans over 75 years old. This type of hearing loss affects both ears equally and happens gradually over time, allowing it to sneak up on you. Generally women lose lower frequency sounds first, while men lose higher frequency sounds.
- Loud Noises – Whether a rock show or a fireworks display, loud sounds for prolonged periods of time can permanently cause damage to your hearing. What causes hearing loss in this instance is the destruction of the tiny hairs in your ears – hairs that cannot be regrown! You may notice ringing in your ears, known as tinnitus, which can last for several hours after the noise exposure.
- Injury – Any time your head or ears are hit, there is a chance of permanent hearing loss. The three small bones within the ear may be shifted as a result of a blow, causing sounds to not be properly sent to the inner ear. A solid hit to the head may also rupture the eardrum or cause permanent nerve damage within the cochlea.
- Ear Infection – Known as “otitis media,” the cause of hearing loss is the inflammation of the middle ear. This type more commonly affects children than adults and can cause extreme pain for the unfortunate victim. Hearing loss may be accompanied by an earache and must be immediately addressed by a doctor. Without treatment, the hearing loss can become permanent.
- Birth Defect – Also affecting children’s hearing is congenital hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is either genetic or non-genetic. Genetic factors make up about 50 percent of all hearing loss and can be either autosomal recessive or autosomal dominant. In the first instance, both parents carry the gene for hearing loss, but neither parent experiences hearing loss. In autosomal dominant cases, one parent experiences hearing loss while the other does not, though the former is much more common and accounts for 70 percent of genetic hearing loss. Non-genetic factors on the other hand include premature birth, maternal diabetes, lack or oxygen, or low birth weight. Some examples of genetic syndromes with hearing loss associated include Down syndrome, Crouzon syndrome, and Waardenburg syndrome.
- Ototoxic Drugs – Some drugs used in chemotherapy and radiation as well as few antibiotics can cause hearing loss because of ototoxic reactions. There are close to 200 drugs on the market that fall into this category which cause tinnitus and balance problems. While many of these issues resolve with the discontinuation of the medication, some damage can be permanent. As always, a physician’s advise should be heeded.
Be sure to consult your doctor to determine what causes hearing loss for you so it can be properly treated!