Causes of Hearing Loss

Hearing-CausesHearing loss is the third most common physical health problem in the U.S., affecting an estimated 48 million people. Many patients assume that hearing loss is mainly a concern amongst older Americans—but this fact is becoming less and less true each year. Today, more cases of hearing loss are caused by exposure to loud noise than aging or any other single factor. The good news is that by taking the time to understand the causes of hearing loss, you can also do more to prevent it from happening to you or your family.  

The Most Common Causes of Hearing Loss

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is becoming increasingly prevalent in Akron, across the U.S. and throughout the world. Today, experts estimate the about 15% of Americans have some level of hearing loss from noise exposure alone. NIHL is not age-related and can affect children, teens, adults and seniors equally.

Sounds exceeding 85 decibels (dB) are considered potentially dangerous for your ears. At 85 dB, exposure to a sound for about eight hours can cause permanent damage. For every five-decibel increase above 85, the exposure time is cut in half. For example, 90 dB noises can damage your ears in four hours, 100 dB noises can cause damage in just an hour and 120 dB sounds can damage your ears instantly. In order to protect against noise-induced hearing loss, Akron residents regularly exposed to loud noises should invest in quality custom earplugs.

Another common cause of hearing loss is the natural aging process. This type of sensorineural hearing loss is called presbycusis. It usually comes on gradually, causes high-frequency hearing loss, affects both ears equally and causes mild to severe impairments. It occurs as a result of natural changes in the inner ear over time potentially caused by several factors including cumulative daily noise exposure; your heredity; changes in the blood supply to the ear caused by heart disease, hypertension, vascular conditions and poor circulation; and side effects of ototoxic medications. An estimated 1 in 3 adults over 65 experience age-related hearing loss; that number jumps to nearly 1 in 2 by the age of 75.

Additional Causes of Hearing Loss

NIHL and presbycusis account for a vast majority of hearing loss in our Akron patients, but there are plenty of other possible causes of hearing loss as well. Sensorineural, or inner ear, hearing loss can be caused by head trauma, viruses, disease, malformations of the inner ear, Meniere’s disease, otosclerosis, acoustic neuromas and more.

Conductive hearing loss, which relates to the middle or outer ear, can be caused by ear infections, colds, allergies, impacted earwax, foreign objects in the ear canal, perforated eardrums, poorly functioning Eustachian tubes and malformations of the outer ear or middle ear, including the ear canal.