Hear Your World;
Your Upstate Hearing Team

What are the Most Common Causes of Hearing Loss?

a hand and ear

Did you know that hearing loss affects close to 50 million people in the U.S. alone? This makes it one of the most common health issues that people face. Hearing loss can either occur at birth or develop gradually at any age. Fortunately, advancement in the audiology industry has led to the creation of various treatment options for people of all ages – from infants to senior citizens.

There are many causes of hearing loss, and while most causes are well-understood, sometimes the cause cannot be determined. However, audiologists are still studying all possible causes, how to prevent them and treatment options.

There are three main types of hearing loss. There is the conductive type of hearing loss, which involves the middle and outer ear. It is often caused by congestion from a cold, a perforated eardrum or an ear infection. In most cases, only one ear is affected, and normal hearing can return after the problem is treated. The more serious type of hearing loss is sensorineural hearing loss, which affects the inner ear. It can be caused by aging or loud music. Moreover, sometimes one may have mixed hearing loss, which is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural types of hearing loss.

Common causes of hearing loss

There are several things that can contribute to hearing loss, including:

Earwax buildup

Wax is secreted by glands in your outer ear canal, and it helps prevent harmful substances like dirt, dust and germs from reaching the eardrum. When your ears have too little wax, they will itch and become a breeding ground for infections. On the other hand, too much wax can cause painful earaches, tinnitus and hearing loss.

Aging

Aging is one of the most common causes of hearing loss. Just like other age-related changes, it is normal to experience hearing loss. However, this type of hearing loss is permanent, and you may find it hard to hear high-frequency sounds, such as the ringing of a telephone or children’s voices. The main symptom of age-related hearing loss is finding some sounds too loud or annoying. Additionally, you may experience more episodes of tinnitus.

Ear infections

Although ear infections often affect children, adults can also be affected, especially because of allergies or the common cold. When the Eustachian tube is blocked by swelling or inflammation, it causes fluid buildup, which is a good breeding ground for infections. This results in earaches, pressure, congestion and temporary hearing loss.

Loud noise

Noise-induced hearing loss occurs after prolonged exposure to loud noise. The constant exposure to loud traffic noise, loud music, or construction work can eventually affect your hearing. Although this type of hearing loss is temporary, repeated exposure to noise makes it harder to recover. The loud noise damages your inner ear hair cells, and gradually affects your hearing ability until it becomes permanent.

Illnesses

There are numerous illnesses that can contribute to hearing loss, including:

  • Diabetes: People with diabetes are more likely to develop hearing loss than people with normal blood sugar levels.
  • Middle ear infection: This disease often affects children and causes temporary hearing loss. If your child shows signs of an ear infection, seek treatment immediately.
  • Meniere’s disease: The cause of this disease is yet to be discovered, but some of the symptoms include vertigo, tinnitus and hearing loss.
  • Sleep apnea: A study conducted by the Albany Medical Center in New York revealed that people with sleep apnea had a higher risk of developing hearing loss.
  • Drugs: Hearing loss can also be caused by some types of drugs or medication known as ototoxic drugs and they include:
  • Diuretics
  • Chemotherapy drugs like Cisplatin
  • Aminoglycoside antibiotics: Generally, these drugs will cause hearing loss when taken in large or prolonged dosages.
  • Perforated eardrum: Loud noise, poking your ear, and ear infections can puncture your eardrum. This may lead to pain, earaches and temporary hearing loss. While a punctured eardrum can heal on its own, it’s essential that you have your ear checked by an audiologist. Meanwhile, keep your ears dry and take over-the-counter medication to relieve the pain.

Seek hearing loss treatment

If your hearing loss is caused by earwax buildup, use a wax softener to remove the wax. You can also use a syringe to push warm water through the ear to remove the wax. But for other causes of hearing loss, ensure that you visit an audiologist. They will conduct some diagnostic tests and get to the bottom of your concerns, which will help them determine the best treatment. If you’re experiencing hearing loss and you’re unsure of the cause, contact us to learn more about Davis Audiology or call at 864-655-8300 today.