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Common Causes of Hearing Loss in Adults


December 4, 2015

Many of us tend to think of hearing loss as a hereditary condition that affects older adults. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), approximately one in three people between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss and nearly half of those older than 75 have difficulty hearing. But hearing loss can occur in adults at any age due to a variety of causes. A hearing loss test can confirm if you have the condition, but in the mean time, get to know some of the causes of hearing loss in adults:

Disease
Diseases and medical conditions involving the ear are a contributing factor to hearing loss:
  • Ménière's disease affects the inner ear, causing dizziness (vertigo), ringing in the ear (tinnitus), and sensitivity to loud sounds. It also can cause sensorineural hearing loss, which may come and go over time, or in some cases become permanent.
  • Otosclerosis is a hereditary disorder that affects the movement of the tiny bones in the middle ear. It can cause a conductive type of hearing loss, which means that sound isn’t transmitted efficiently through the ear canal to the ear drum and bones of the middle ear.
  • Autoimmune inner ear disease is a rare inflammatory condition in which the body’s immune system attacks the cells in the inner ear, potentially causing sudden and dramatic hearing loss.
  • Acoustic neuroma is a benign and slow-growing tumor that can cause hearing loss and ringing in one ear, and can also be accompanied by a feeling of fullness in the ear.
Medications
Certain medications are known to be ototoxic, or damaging to the ear. They include:
  • Aminoglycoside antibiotics, such as streptomycin, neomycin, and kanamycin
  • Large quantities of salicylates, such as aspirin
  • Loop diuretics like lasix or ethacrynic acid
  • Some drugs used in chemotherapy, such as cisplatin, carboplatin, or nitrogen mustard
Loud Noise
Exposure to loud noise for long periods of time can cause gradual and permanent hearing loss by damaging the hair cells in the inner ear. As well, acoustic trauma brought about by exposure to a single, sudden loud noise, such as an explosion, can cause sudden hearing loss.

Head Trauma
Physical head injuries can sometimes damage the middle ear structure or lead to a hole in the eardrum, both resulting in hearing loss.

Presbycusis
Presbycusis is a sensorineural hearing loss condition that gradually occurs later in life. It makes speech sound muffled as the ability to hear high-pitched sounds is lost, and can also cause confusion over words that rhyme. The condition affects hearing in both ears over time.

If you or a loved one are concerned about hearing loss, take the first step by scheduling an audiogram. Resonance Hearing Aids can give you a complimentary map of hearing test providers in your area. Call 720-660-8960 for more information, or you can also find answers to many of your common questions on our website.