Hearing loss is a problem for many in the U.S. and around the world, and it becomes more of a problem as you age. According to the Johns Hopkins Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health, approximately 38.2 million Americans or 14.3% of the U.S. population report some degree of hearing loss. It is important to understand the most common hearing loss causes so that you can stay active in protecting and maintaining your hearing health.
There are three types of hearing loss:
- Sensorineural Hearing Loss
- Conductive Hearing Loss
- Mixed Hearing Loss
Different factors cause different types of hearing loss. For more specific information on each hearing loss type, visit our other blog posts about hearing loss. Here are 6 hearing loss causes that you should know about now.
Aging is a common cause of hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss starts worsening especially among older adults. Hearing weakens over time. This type of hearing loss can be gradual, so it might be hard to notice at first. One of the first signs that you may have hearing loss is difficulty hearing speech in noisy environments.
According to the National Institute on Aging, approximately one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 have hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing.
2. Noise Exposure
Repeated exposure to loud noise can damage our inner ear, resulting in and/or tinnitus, ringing in the ear. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), repeated exposure to noise above 85 decibels is dangerous and can lead to hearing loss. For your reference, 85 decibels is the sound of heavy city traffic or a lawnmower.
Those who are repeatedly exposed to loud noise or music such as frequent concert-goers or first responders have a higher risk for noise-induced hearing loss. It is important to wear hearing protection such as high-fidelity earplugs to protect your hearing.
Meniere’s disease can lead to hearing loss, tinnitus, and intense dizziness. It typically affects more people in their 40’s and 50’s. Another illness called otosclerosis can cause hearing loss. This is a middle ear disease. It makes it harder for the tiny bones in the middle ear to move, which causes conductive hearing loss. There are other diseases and illnesses that can cause hearing loss. Consult your doctor if you have hearing loss concerns.
Certain medications and drugs can be ototoxic, or harmful to your hearing health. According to the ASHA, there are over 200 over-the-counter and prescription medications that may cause hearing loss. If you’re taking medications for an illness or infection, talk to your doctor about the hearing risks. Be mindful and aware if you need to take ototoxic drugs for medication.
Your genetics may make you more susceptible to ear damage from sound or deterioration from aging. Check your family history to see if you might be more at-risk for hearing loss.
6. Head or Ear Trauma
Traumatic brain injury can result in a variety of problems related to the ear, including hearing loss, dizziness, and tinnitus. Depending on the severity of the injury, the trauma can cause damage to the auditory pathway, anywhere from the outer ear to the auditory cortex in the brain. Therefore, there is not one specific type of hearing loss that occurs with trauma, but rather a variety of complex symptoms that can be challenging for the injured person to cope with.
We hope you enjoyed our article on the “6 Hearing Loss Causes You Should Know About”. If you experience hearing loss, see your hearing professional immediately to determine the cause and create the best plan of action. Start protecting your hearing health today by wearing ear protection and living a healthy lifestyle.
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