Causes of hearing loss

Hearing loss can be caused by many factors, but age and exposure to loud noise are the two most common causes. Causes of hearing loss can include the following:

Common causes of hearing loss

Ageing

Age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, can occur progressively with age and can be the result of the degeneration of the cochlea and/or the auditory nerve.

Noise exposure/Noise-induced hearing loss

Single instances of extreme noise can cause sudden hearing loss. Prolonged exposure to loud noise can lead to gradual sensorineural hearing loss as a result of damage to the sensory cells. Noise-induced hearing loss is commonly associated with industries such as agriculture, manufacturing and construction and when it is occupational—related, the hearing loss is called “industrial deafness”.

Infections, diseases and disorders

Hearing loss can result both directly and indirectly from a variety of different conditions, including autoimmune disorders, chronic ear infections, meningitis, measles, mumps and otitis media. The latter occurs as the result of infection or collection of fluid in the ear and is particularly prevalent among children. People with hypertension, obesity and diabetes are at increased risk of hearing loss.

Use of particular drugs

Some medications are ototoxic, which means they are known to be damaging to the ears.  The word “ototoxicity” comes from a combination of two Latin words: “oto” referring to the ear and “toxicity” meaning poisoning. Ototoxicity occurs when a person ingests chemicals or certain medications that can adversely affect the way the inner ear functions. The use, or abuse, of particular drugs such as alcohol and nicotine (smoking cigarettes) can also impact your hearing.

Congenital causes

This refers to impairment that is present from birth and can be caused by hereditary and non-hereditary genetic factors. The hearing loss may be developed prenatally – for example, in-utero exposure to maternal disease or drugs. The cause may also occur during childbirth, such as birth asphyxia, severe jaundice or complications from premature birth.

Physical trauma

Damage to the ears and hearing loss can occur as the result of physical trauma, caused by injuries either to the ear itself or to the head or brain.

Obstructed ear canal

Temporary minimal hearing loss may be caused by the build-up of cerumen (earwax) or other foreign bodies in the ear canal, which prevents sound from being effectively conducted.

 

 

 

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