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The Causes of Hearing Loss and Tips That May Help Prevent It from Happening to You

Hearing loss may affect all ages, delaying speech and learning in children and causing social and vocational problems for adults. Depending on the cause, it can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. It may be a sudden or a progressive impairment that gradually gets worse.

Table of Content

1. What causes hearing loss?
2. Hearing loss can affect your health.
3. Common causes of hearing loss.
4. Take care of your hearing.

What Causes Hearing Loss

What Causes Hearing Loss?

Noise-induced hearing loss is the most common type experienced by younger individuals. Exposure to loud noises or persistent high noise levels can also cause sensorineural hearing loss.

Repeated exposure to loud noise can damage the sound-sensitive hair cells in the inner ear, so protect hearing from harmful environments.

Identification and Support Are Crucial in Children

It can be caused by exposure to a single loud sound, such as a gunshot or explosion, or by continuous exposure to loud noise over time.

This results in reducing one of the physical attributes of sound called intensity, so the energy reaching the inner ear is lower or less intense than that in the original stimulus.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that young people limit exposure to loud sounds and using personal audio players to an hour a day to limit noise exposure.

Age Related Hearing Loss

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Intense, loud sounds can damage the sensitive nerve cells in our inner ear, which are needed to convert sound into signals sent to the brain.

Many people are unaware of the presence of environmental sound at damaging levels or the level at which sound becomes harmful.

Sensorineural Is the Most Prevalent Hearing Loss

Besides damaging hair cells, noise can also damage the auditory nerve that carries information about sounds to your brain.

Protect yourself by turning down the sound on your stereo, television, or headphones, moving away from loud noise, or using earplugs or other ear protection.

Hearing Loss Can Affect Your Health

The WHO estimates that half of those aged 12-35 are at risk from using personal audio devices too loud.

Learn how to stay ear healthy, prevent problems, and manage existing conditions to improve your or a loved one’s daily life.

It Often Occurs over a Long Period

When sounds exceed 85 decibels, they are considered hazardous to your hearing health. The quietest sounds that people can hear are usually 25-40 decibel.

At the end of the inner ear, thousands of auditory nerve fibres detect the high and low sound frequencies and transmit action potentials to the brain, which interprets the signal as sound.

The culmination of constant exposure to every day sounds like traffic, construction work, noisy office environments or loud music can negatively affect your hearing.

Other loud sounds, such as machine noise, can be harmful if exposure occurs for long periods. The human ear can only tolerate a certain level of sound before damage occurs.

Tinnitus can also be caused by exposure to loud noise, ear and sinus infections, hormonal changes, thyroid disease and cardiovascular problems.

It can also develop because of constant exposure to loud music, noise, or medication exposure that can damage hearing.

Inner Ear Nerves and Sensory Cells Gradually Die

The noise source may be occupational, recreational, or accidental. Noise damage is cumulative, and all sources of damage must be considered to assess risk.

Most people’s danger zone starts at about 85dB; at this sound level, using hearing protection and limiting exposure is essential.

Common Causes of Hearing Loss

There are many reasons why we lose our hearing, but the most common are prolonged exposure to noise and the ageing process.

Though less common a cause than the above two, if you experience hearing loss while on Ototoxic drugs, talk to your doctor about your medication regimen.

Hearing Impairment Can Vary Widely

Over 200 known Ototoxic drugs, both prescription and over-the-counter, on the market and include medicines to treat serious infections, cancer, and heart disease.

Modern life has added a host of ear-damaging elements to the list, including medications and many sources of loud, ongoing noise.

It is not uncommon for the indirect effects of viral infections to be delayed several years after most symptoms have subsided.

Infections are also a common cause, as are congenital disabilities, genetics and reaction to drugs, especially chemotherapy or medications used for cancer treatment.

Diminished hearing is a common side effect of ageing, usually coming on gradually and affecting high-pitched sounds most frequently.

Some people will go their whole lives with no hearing difficulties, while others may have a hearing impairment from childhood.

The Inner Ear Could Also Be the Problem

Conductive hearing loss is caused by any condition or disease that impedes sound conveyance in its mechanical form through the middle ear cavity to the inner ear.

Generally, the cause of conductive hearing loss can be identified and treated, resulting in a complete or partial improvement in hearing.

Take Care of Your Hearing

Hearing loss can either be conductive, involving the outer or middle ear or sensorineural, affecting the inner ear or auditory nerve.

The most common hearing loss is Sensorineural, caused by damage, degradation, or inflammation of the inner ear or the auditory nerve.

Sound Frequency Affects Hearing Sensitivity

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Mixed hearing loss is caused by conductive damage in the outer or middle ear and Sensorineural damage in the inner ear or auditory nerve.

Most people will suffer Sensorineural hearing loss because of the ageing process, as the ear may lose its ability to conduct and process sounds.

Noise related hearing loss can also be temporary, but repeated overexposure to loud noise makes it more difficult for your ears to recover.

  • Everyday sounds like traffic, loud music, restaurants, and more can affect your hearing.
  • Sometimes, people may need to use hearing aids and other such devices to improve hearing.
  • Hearing loss may be fluctuating, varying over time, improving and getting worse at other times.
  • In normal hearing, sound vibrations pass from the outer ear through the middle ear to the inner ear.

While some conductive hearing loss is caused by disease or permanent damage, most conductive hearing loss is temporary, such as wax or a blockage.

As people develop hearing loss in ageing, the cognitive load demanded by auditory perception increases, leading to a change in brain structure and eventually to dementia.

It Can Happen Overnight or Progress over Days

Hearing loss may result from genetic causes, complications at birth, certain infectious diseases, chronic ear infections, using particular drugs, exposure to excessive noise, and ageing.

It’s essential to identify the cause of a hearing loss as it may continue harming your auditory system or point to a more serious underlying health condition.