While there will always be an element of subjectivity involved in every individual case of hearing loss, generally, there are four particular causes of the condition.
Before discussing these causes in more depth, it is first important to outline the three types of hearing loss people can experience, as each type of hearing loss has different causes. These are:
- Sensorineural: The root cause is found in the inner ear or the vestibulocochlear nerve
- Conductive: The root cause is an obstruction in the ear that prevents sound from reaching the cochlear
- Mixed: When a person presents with both sensorineural and conductive hearing loss at the same time
For the purpose of this piece, we will look at the top causes for sensorineural and conductive hearing loss – keeping in mind that both conditions and their causes, can be experienced simultaneously.
(Causes Of Sensorineural Hearing Loss)
Hair cells in the inner ear degrade, and eventually die completely due to the aging process. As more hair cells are lost, hearing loss can develop. Those over the age of 60 have the highest rates of hearing loss, and the older a person becomes, the more prevalent the condition becomes. It is estimated that nearly 50% of people over the age of 75 have at least some degree of hearing loss.
2. Noise Exposure
Age is not the only reason that hair cells can be lost; exposure to loud noise can have the same effect. Any noise over 85dB (decibels) has the potential to harm hearing, with the risk increasing the louder the decibel level becomes. Many people are exposed to loud sounds on a regular basis for example, people who work on construction sites or near machinery will often be exposed to 85 decibels or more every day. In addition, attending concerts, orchestral performances and even sports events can mean significant exposure to harmful levels of noise. Hearing protection, such as earplugs and earmuffs can help mitigate the potential damage of such noise exposure.
(Causes Of Conductive Hearing Loss)
3. Earwax Buildup
Earwax is an essential substance that plays a very important role in the health of the ears, but for some, it can build up and accumulate in the ear canal. When this happens, it blocks sound waves from passing through to the inner ear – resulting in hearing loss. When the blockage is removed, hearing function is usually restored.
4. Fluid In The Middle Ear
Fluid can accumulate in the ear and prevent sound waves from reaching the ear as they should. Most often, fluid accumulates due to a viral or bacterial infection. Treating the underlying infection will usually reduce the fluid and restore hearing, but surgical procedures can also be considered if the fluid persists for several months.
Hearing loss will depend on your current situation, but we have briefly discussed the most common causes. If you have a sudden change in your hearing, it is best to consult with a hearing health professional to get down to the root of what may be causing your hearing loss. Know that at the end of the day the Wise Hearing Family is here to help you.