What Causes Hearing Loss?

Causes of Hearing Loss

Noise Exposure- People are frequently exposed to loud noises throughout their life. Whether it be from Construction, Loud Music, Gun shots etc, exposure to these loud noises can have lasting impact on ones hearing.


Aging (presbycusis)- Presbycusis is the loss of hearing that gradually occurs in most individuals as they grow older. Hearing loss is a common disorder associated with aging. About 30-35 percent of adults between the ages of 65 and 75 years have a hearing loss. It is estimated that 40-50 percent of people 75 and older have a hearing loss.


Infections (otitis media)- An ear infection is most often a bacterial or viral infection that affects the middle ear, the air-filled space behind the eardrum that contains the tiny vibrating bones of the ear.


Injury to the head or ear- Injuries to the head or ear sometimes heal on their own, and sometimes surgery can repair the damage. In both cases, your hearing may return. However, severe injuries may cause permanent damage in your ear, resulting in permanent hearing loss.


Birth defects or genetics- 50% to 60% of hearing loss in babies is caused by genetics. There are also environmental factors that can cause hearing loss. 25% or more of hearing loss in babies is due to “environmental” causes such as maternal infections during pregnancy and complications after birth. Sometimes both genes and environment work together to cause hearing loss. For example, there are some medicines that can cause hearing loss, but only in people who have certain mutations in their genes.


Ototoxic reaction to drugs or cancer treatment- Certain medications can cause damage the ear, resulting in hearing loss, ringing in the ear, or balance disorders. These drugs are labeled as ototoxic. There is known to be more than 200 ototoxic medications (prescription and over-the-counter) on the market today. These medications are used to treat serious infections, cancer, and heart disease. Hearing and balance problems caused by these drugs can sometimes be reversed when the drug therapy is discontinued. Sometimes, however, the damage is permanent. When a decision is made to treat a serious illness or medical condition with an ototoxic drug, your health care team will consider the effects of the medications on your hearing and balance systems. The team will discuss with you how these side effects will affect your quality of life.