Causes and types of hearing loss

Causes of hearing loss

Hearing loss has many different causes and contributing factors. Age related hearing loss is the most common. Hearing loss can can also be caused by excessive exposure to loud noise. We've created a list of common causes of hearing loss. If you think you have hearing loss or want to learn more about the common causes of hearing loss, please contact your local National Hearing Care clinic: 

Possible causes of hearing loss

There are many possible causes of hearing loss, with some of the most common including:

  • Aging
  • Exposure to loud noise
  • Recessive genetic conditions or syndromes
  • Some medications
  • Acoustic neuroma - a benign tumour that grows on the auditory nerves between the ear and brain
  • A buildup of earwax
  • Some infections and illnesses
  • Head trauma
  • Listening to loud music
  • Smoking, alcohol and being overweight

Understanding what causes your hearing to change can help you in deciding what you do next and whether hearing aids are an option you want to consider.

Types of hearing loss

Just as there are a number of possible hearing loss causes, there are also various types of hearing loss:

Sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there has been damage to the inner ear or the nerve that connects the ear to the brain. It can be either congenital (present at birth) or an acquired condition.

Conductive hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss is a condition where sounds are blocked from entering the inner ear via the outer or middle ear. The condition can have a variety of causes, such as ear infections, trauma and benign tumours.

Mixed hearing loss

Mixed hearing loss is a condition where hearing loss is due to conditions affecting external/middle and inner ear. It is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. 

Noise induced hearing loss

Noise induced hearing loss is where the structures of the inner ear, including the nerve hair cells in the cochlea, are damaged by noise that is beyond safe levels. It may be the result of an intense one-off exposure or prolonged exposure. Noise induced hearing loss may be gradual, permanent or temporary.

High frequency hearing loss

High frequency hearing loss is where people have trouble hearing sounds between 2,000 and 8,000 Hertz. The condition often occurs when there is damage to the cells within the cochlea from noise, aging, genetics, noise exposure, illness or other environmental factors.

Unilateral hearing loss

Unilateral hearing loss is found in only one ear, with the other ear generally unaffected. It may be congenital or acquired at any point in a person’s life, with the degree of hearing loss ranging from mild to profound.

Hearing loss after ear infection

Hearing loss after an ear infection may or may not be permanent, depending on the severity of the infection. An ear infection is in itself a form of conductive hearing loss, but it can have a lasting impact on hearing if left untreated. Recurring ear infections can result in tympanosclerosis, scarring or thickening of the tympanic membrane, which can impact the movement of the eardrum and general hearing.

Changes in your hearing can be a gradual process or you may experience a sudden change in your hearing health. Identifying hearing loss is not always that easy and other people may notice changes before you do. If others have commented on your hearing or you have noticed a change, book a free hearing test to check your hearing health. At National Hearing Care we are here to help determine which hearing loss you have, how it was caused and what can be done to help.

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