The Top 5 Causes Of Hearing Loss

The Top 5 Causes Of Hearing Loss 

There are many different causes of hearing loss today. Thankfully, most of these issues can be prevented. As such, it is important to make sure you see your doctor often to get assessments and treatments should problems start to arise. 

1. Age

As we get older, the body’s natural process of aging can affect our ability to hear. Over time, the cells of our inner ear degenerate, resulting in hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss is caused by the deterioration of the tiny hair cells in our cochlea. These cells are known as stereocilia and attach to the cochlea’s inner surface. Over time, these tiny cells become damaged by exposure to noise and aging and die off. This causes hearing loss, also called presbycusis. 

2. Exposure to Loud Noise

Whether you’re listening to loud music, watching the television, or working in a noisy environment, exposure to noise can permanently damage your hearing. Exposure to long-term, high-volume noises can affect the outer, middle, and inner ear and the nerve pathways that carry sound information from the ear to your brain. It’s called noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and can happen to people of all ages. A new study shows that exposure to noise from 80 to 100 decibels can cause fluid buildup in the inner ear and damage to the hair cells in the cochlea, leading to hearing loss. The study also reveals that treating the fluid buildup with a readily available saline solution reduces inner ear nerve damage. 

3. Ear Infections

Ear infections are one of the most common childhood illnesses. They can be caused by viral or bacterial infections that cause fluid to build up in the ear. The tube called the eustachian tube connects the middle ear to the nose and helps drain excess fluid. It also keeps the air pressure inside the ear equal. Children who have allergies may enlarge their adenoids (small pads of tissue over the throat and behind the nose). This can block the eustachian tube, making it harder for fluid to drain. Colds and other respiratory diseases can irritate the adenoids, too, and increase the risk of infection. Smoking, fumes, and other environmental toxins can also increase the chance of an ear infection. 

4. Genetics

Genes are the instructions that tell your body’s cells how to grow and work. They are also responsible for determining what color your eyes will be, and how well you hear. In some cases, the genes can change and cause hearing loss. This is called gene mutation. Some gene mutations run in families and affect more than one person, while others don’t. Genetic hearing loss is categorized as either syndromic or nonsyndromic (Figure 2). Syndromic hearing loss happens when the abnormal gene causes other problems with the external ear, inner ear, or organs of the body. About 70 percent of hereditary hearing loss is nonsyndromic. Most of these cases are caused by autosomal recessive genes. X-linked and mitochondrial genetic disorders occur less frequently. 

5. Trauma

Trauma can be anything that causes a person to feel off-kilter or disrupts normal functioning in their life. This could include a serious accident or an experience of violence or loss that occurred out of the person’s control. Some people will have a more difficult time overcoming traumas than others. Some traumatic experiences are a one-time event, while others are a long-lasting and ongoing issue. Trauma can also lead to reexperiencing the event in ways that set you off-kilter, such as through reenactments or recollections. This can cause a range of symptoms, from hearing loss and numbness to dissociation and a feeling of being in another place or time.