Six Causes of Hearing Loss that will keep you up at Night
Hearing loss in the world is more common today than most of us think and know about. There are many causes and reasons for it, sometimes resulting right from childhood to sometimes because of injuries. According to WHO, By 2050 nearly 2.5 billion people are projected to have some degree of hearing loss and at least 700 will require hearing rehabilitation while over 1 billion young adults are at risk of permanent, avoidable hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. While we usually categorise the causes of hearing loss on its types of hearing loss, there are certain causes that still remain a question mark even for renowned researchers and audiologists. Primarily, a person can have either partial or total hearing loss. Hearing loss is often also accompanied by tinnitus (hearing ringing noises in head or ear) or a loss of balance.
A lot of times hearing loss is associated with the process of ageing though nowadays the excessive use of earphones or exposure to loud noises usually results in hearing loss in young adults as well.
How to know you might be experiencing hearing loss?
The most common symptom is to assume that you are able to listen but not understand certain conversations thus, making you an inactive listener. You might also feel irritated with this symptom and certain noises like ringing of telephone may start irritating you. Following this you might experience some severe symptoms like tinnitus or loss of balance.
Let us understand the different types of hearing loss along with their causes.
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss- The problem is either in inner ear or the auditory nerve
- Conductive Hearing Loss- Sound waves not reaching the inner ear due to an injury or some form of trauma to the middle ear.
- Mixed Hearing Loss- The problem in hearing is caused by the combination of the two types mentioned above.
Causes of Hearing Loss
- Illness Related Hearing Loss
There are many illnesses and diseases that can cause hearing loss, some of which are as follows-
Eardrum Perforations – Damage to the eardrum will lead to hearing loss.
Middle ear infections – Ear infections are the most common type of disease associated with the human ear. If untreated or not treated on time, it can result in hearing loss. Always consult an ENT specialist in case of ear infections.
Otosclerosis – The disease usually results from the restricted movements in tiny bones present in the middle ear which can result in a hearing loss.
Meniere’s disease – Though the cause of this disease is unknown till date the symptoms usually involve loss of balance, tinnitus and vertigo like problems.
- Inherited Hearing Loss
As the name suggests, this type of hearing loss is usually hereditary in nature and can be conductive, sensorineural or a mixed type. The genetic trait is passed down to the child from parents resulting in hearing loss. Children of parents who marry within the family [consanguineous marriage] are more prone to have this type of hearing loss. This case of hearing loss is usually present and detected right from the child’s birth though in rare cases it might develop gradually with time. Depending on the intensity of the hearing loss, treatment or hearing aid is provided.
- Noise Induced Hearing Loss
Noise induced hearing loss can result from being in repeated and prolonged presences of loud noises, construction noises, traffic sounds or generally loud environments. It can negatively impact your inner ear hair cells which can result in partial or in extreme cases, total hearing loss. As a precaution, it is always advised by doctors and audiologists to use ear plugs or ear muffs in loud noises and to ensure that your earphones are used appropriately.
- Hearing Loss caused by certain Drugs and Medicines
You will be surprised to know that there are certain drugs and medicines that cause hearing loss. Such drugs are known as ototoxic drugs.Some of the examples of such drugs are as follows-
- aminoglycoside antibiotics
- some diuretics
- chemotherapy drugs
Of course the hearing loss does not occur in one or two dosages but if dosages are consumed in prolonged manner over a period of time, it is proven to have resulted in hearing loss. Researchers are trying to find the cause and the minimum harmless dosage for these drugs but no breakthrough has been achieved till date.
- Head Trauma and Tumours
Head traumas or some kind of tumours can also result in hearing loss. In case of head trauma, the inner ear or some other part of the ear can be damaged which can result in hearing loss.
- Single Sided Deafness
Unilateral hearing loss or single sided deafness can occur due to various reasons mentioned above or a combination of these reasons.