Causes of Hearing Loss

There are a variety of issues that may cause hearing loss, including:

  • Age – There is a progressive loss of ability to hear high frequencies with increasing age. This begins in early adulthood, but does not usually interfere with ability to understand conversation until much later.
  • Noise – Noise is the cause of approximately half of all cases of hearing loss, causing some degree of problems in 5% of the population globally.  Many people are unaware of the presence of environmental sound at damaging levels, or of the level at which sound becomes harmful. Common sources of damaging noise levels include car stereos, children’s toys, transportation, crowds, lawn and maintenance equipment, power tools, gun use, and even hair dryers. Noise damage is cumulative; all sources of damage must be considered to assess risk.
  • Genetic – Hearing loss can be inherited. Both dominant and recessive genes exist which can cause mild to profound impairment. If a family has a dominant gene for deafness it will persist across generations because it will manifest itself in the offspring even if it is inherited from only one parent. If a family had genetic hearing impairment caused by a recessive gene it will not always be apparent as it will have to be passed onto offspring from both parents.
  • Illness – Several illnesses may cause hearing loss, including: Measles, Meningitis, and Mumps
  • Neurological disorders – Neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis and strokes can have an effect on hearing.
  • Medications – Some medications cause irreversible damage to the ear, and are limited in their use for this reason. The most important group is the aminoglycosides and platinum based chemotherapeutics such as cisplatin.
  • Chemicals
  • Physical trauma – There can be damage either to the ear itself or to the brain centers that process the aural information conveyed by the ears. People who sustain head injury are especially vulnerable to hearing loss or tinnitus, either temporary or permanent.

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