Causes of Hearing Loss

Young Girls Talking

So many things can cause hearing loss.

Parents who learn something is wrong with their child’s hearing usually want to understand what caused it, so they can find the most effective treatment option. Knowing the possible causes of hearing loss is also important to parents who want to help their kids avoid hearing loss to the best of their ability.

The causes of infantile hearing loss are diverse. The most common are:

  • High-risk pregnancies
  • Infection and diseases
  • Certain medications
  • Alcohol or drug abuse during pregnancy
  • Hereditary irregularities
  • Infantile meningitis

Other risk factors before, during or shortly after birth include:

Children who have hearing loss often exhibit cerebral motor disturbances, delayed, slow or non-existent speech development, and abnormal behaviors such as being very loud, aggressive, or standing completely still.

Many people experience hearing loss after birth. Possible causes include:

  • Illness and infections, such as:
    • Bacterial meningitis
    • Encephalitis
    • Severe cases of measles or mumps
    • Chronic ear inflammations
  • Syndromes, such as:
    • Moebius syndrome
    • Congenital multiple arthrogryposis
    • Franceschetti’s syndrome
  • Chemotherapy and reactions to medications
  • Long-term exposure to noise
  • Accidents
  • Earwax
  • Aging
Thoughtful Man

Noise-induced hearing loss.

The most common cause of hearing damage is noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Damage can begin at a continuous stress level of 85 dB. If you listen to loud music at a concert or on your MP3-player, you may discover that you cannot hear well for some time afterward. This happens because the fine hair cells in your cochlea (inner ear organ responsible for hearing) have been at least temporarily damaged. After a period of quiet, they usually recover. This is called a temporary threshold shift (TTS).

But, being subjected to extreme noise stress over a long period can damage or destroy the hair cells, with no chance of regeneration. This is called a permanent threshold shift (PTS).

Noise stressors.

  • Loud music. Listening to loud music at concerts or through headsets can be especially dangerous. The sound intensities through headsets can easily reach 110–120 dB. A sudden, explosive sound like a firecracker can also cause NIHL.
  • On-the-job noise. People in loud work environments, such as construction, factory, and airport-tarmac workers, and musicians should wear hearing protection.
  • Tinnitus. Noise stress can also cause tinnitus. This is often described as a ringing in the ears, but it can occur in a variety of forms and sound levels.

Now that you know the reasons for hearing loss, what can you do?

Wear hearing protection, such as earplugs and earmuffs, or custom-fitted earplugs or headphones with different filter systems.