The Top 10 Causes of Hearing Loss
There are a wide range of causes of hearing loss, which can be immediate or gradual and will vary with impact. Most causes can be found by examining the ear and finding out where the problem or damage is within the ear. No matter the severity or cause of the hearing loss, it is vital to seek medical help to prevent it from getting worse or becoming permanent. Here are the top 10 most common causes of hearing loss:
- Loud Noise
Frequent exposure to loud sounds such as machinery and large speakers can damage your hearing gradually, but even just one occasion close to an extremely loud noise can permanently damage hearing in an instance. Loud noises damage the hair cells in the inner ear that transmit sounds. Hazardous sound exposure that could damage your hearing include concerts and nightclubs, power tools, motorcycle and boat engines, sporting events and even loud restaurants. For protection, there are apps that you can download which tell you when a noise is too loud, plus there are ear buds that can be worn to lower sounds but keep the quality of speech and music.
Age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, is a permanent loss of hearing that happens gradually over time as people age, it is often equal in both ears and worse for high pitched sounds. There are a variety of causes of presbycusis, but it is often from changes or damage in the inner ear and the nerves leading to the brain as well as high blood pressure.
- Ear Infection
Ear infections can cause inflammation of the inner ear, which leads to earache and hearing loss. Medicine should be prescribed by a doctor to clear the infection, as if left for too long an ear infection can cause persistent or permanent loss of hearing.
- Head Injury
Head trauma can move the position of the bones in the middle ear which results in sound not being able to reach the inner ear. A blow to the head can also cause a ruptured ear drum or damage the auditory nerves in the inner ear.
- Side Effects of Medication
Ototoxic drugs can cause hearing loss, balance issues and tinnitus. Ototoxic medicines with side effects that can affect hearing include antibiotics, diuretics and drugs to treat heart disease.
- Genetic or Birth Defect
Hearing loss is one of the most common birth defects and can be caused by a variety of reasons such as illness during pregnancy and premature birth. Around half of babies born with hearing loss have developed it through genetic factors that have been passed down in the DNA.
Some diseases can also lead to the loss of hearing; these include meningitis and Meniere’s syndrome. Viral infections such as measles can also affect hearing, as well as benign tumours on the hearing nerve. Treatments for cancer can also occasionally lead to hearing problems.
Excessive wax can sometimes build-up in the ear canal, which blocks sound from getting through. The wax can easily be extracted by a doctor, and should be checked regularly so it does not accumulate again.
A perforation of the eardrum can be caused by many issues such as head injury, a big change in air pressure that may be related to scuba diving or flying, pressure caused by an ear infection or from a foreign object entering the ear, for example a cotton bud.
Having a high fever for a prolonged amount of time can result in hearing loss as the fever will damage the structure of the inner ear.