Hearing Loss Causes

Causes of Hearing Loss

The causes of hearing loss are varied and their impact on hearing is variable. Sometimes the cause or etiology is readily apparent, such as a wax build-up in the external ear canal or an ear infection. At other times, the causes of hearing loss are presumed or indefinite given current levels of technology and the information they provide, such as in cases of sudden onset or non-syndromic sensori-neural hearing loss.
– Patricia E. Connelly, PhD, CCC-A, FAAA, New Jersey Medical School, NEWARK, NJ

The main causes of hearing loss are:

  • Excessive noise (Ex: Construction, Rock music, Gun shot, etc)
  • Aging (Presbycusis)
  • Infections (Otitis Media)
  • Injury to the head or ear
  • Birth defects or genetics
  • Ototoxic reaction to drugs or cancer treatment (Ex: Antibiotics, Chemotherapy, Radiation)

Causes of Hearing Loss – Conductive:

  • External Ear
    • Congenital malformation
    • Blockage in ear canal – foreign body or earwax
  • Middle ear
    • Perforation in the ear drum from trauma or disease
    • Ear Infection
    • Complications due to head trauma or trauma to the ear

Causes of Hearing Loss – Sensori-neural:

  • Sensory
    • Genetic disorders
    • Hearing loss from aging
    • Medications-some antibiotics
    • Cancer treatments – chemotherapy and radiation therapy
    • Head trauma
    • Excessive noise expose
    • Diseases-sickle cell anemia
    • Kidney disease
    • Meniere’s syndrome
    • Congenital infections-toxoplasmosis, rubella, CMV, herpes, other bacterial infections like syphilis
    • Acquired infections-influenza, meningitis, labyrinthitis, mumps
  • Neural
    • Acoustic neuroma or other tumor of or near the nerve of hearing and balance

Preventing Hearing Loss

Noise-induced hearing loss can result from a single loud noise such as a firecracker or gunshot. Hearing loss can also result from prolonged exposure to noise over a period of time. It occurs gradually and painlessly. The best way to prevent noise-induced hearing loss is to take care of your hearing by protecting your ears from loud sounds.

We should not be exposed to 85 decibels (dB) of sound for longer than eight hours a day. For every 5 dB increase in volume, the maximum recommended exposure time is cut in half. Here are some examples of sound represented in decibels:

  • Lawnmower [90 dB]
  • Snowmobile [100 dB]
  • Stereo Headphones [105-110 dB]
  • Car Horn [110 dB]
  • Jackhammer [113 dB]
  • Rock Concert [115-120 dB]
  • Jet Taking Off [130 dB]
  • Firearms [125-170 dB]

As you can see, there are many everyday sounds that can cause noise-induced hearing loss. Here are some simple things you can do to protect your hearing:

  • Wear earplugs when you’re exposed to loud noise at work or play.
  • Pay attention to the noises around you. Turn down the volume on radios, TVs and stereos when you can. Whenever possible, leave noisy environments.
  • Alternate a noisy activity with a quiet one to give your ears a rest.
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Hearing Loss Causes in Portland OR and Vancouver WA

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