Causes of hearing loss
Experiencing hearing loss is more common than you might think. It can happen to anyone, at any age, and from all walks of life. And hearing loss occurs for a wide variety of reasons:
1. Age related hearing loss
The most common type of hearing loss is age-related hearing loss (also called presbycusis). This type of hearing loss happens gradually over time and is just a normal part of aging for all of us. Although age-related hearing loss is permanent, its symptoms are treatable with hearing aids.
You may start to notice symptoms of age-related hearing loss:
- Missing bits of conversation
- Finding yourself asking people to repeat themselves
- Having trouble hearing high-frequency noises like a child’s voice or birds chirping
The key to successful treatment is to get your hearing evaluated before your symptoms become more severe.
2. Noise-related hearing loss
Another common type of hearing loss is caused by constant exposure to loud noise. Everyday sounds like traffic, loud music, restaurants, and more can affect your hearing. Noise-related hearing loss is generally temporary, but repeated overexposure to loud noise makes it more difficult for your ears to recover. Over time, hearing loss can become permanent. It’s crucial to minimize your exposure to loud noises, wear ear protection, and use headphones sensibly.
3. Hereditary hearing loss
Some types of hearing loss are genetic and inherited from a parent. Hereditary hearing loss can be either sensorineural or conductive. Most genetic types of hearing loss present at birth, but some may also develop over time.
- Sensorineural hearing loss involves damage to the inner ear hair cells or the auditory nerve, and can be caused by things like aging, certain viruses and loud noises.
- Conductive hearing loss involves obstructions or damage to the outer and middle ear or ear canal. This type of hearing loss can be caused by malformations, perforated eardrums, infections or benign tumors.
4. Illness-related and drug-related hearing loss
There are several types of illnesses and medications that can contribute to or trigger hearing loss.
- Infections of the middle ear can cause hearing loss, either temporary or permanent.
- Meniere’s disease is also associated with hearing loss, as is the condition otosclerosis.
- Some drugs, known as ototoxic drugs, are associated with hearing loss. These include large doses of aminoglycoside antibiotics, aspirin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and chemotherapy drugs.
5. Head injury-related hearing loss
An accident or trauma to your head or ear can also cause hearing loss. This usually happens because a blow to the head can cause damage to the inner or outer ear structures. Even injuries as minor as a concussion can result in hearing loss, which is why it’s so important for people of any age to seek medical treatment after a head injury.
Tumors can also cause hearing loss symptoms, like tinnitus or feelings of fullness in one or both ears. Sometimes tumors can be treated surgically, but permanent hearing damage may remain.