Hearing loss is one of the most common health problems throughout the world. It causes communication issues and can make the patient feel like they cannot participate in normal social events.
In order to avoid things that could cause or exacerbate hearing loss, it is essential to understand some of the most common causes behind it. Let’s talk about what they are and who you can talk to about your hearing.
What Can Make Me Lose My Hearing?
There are several factors that commonly cause hearing loss, including the following:
Presbycusis is the natural, gradual loss of hearing as a person grows older. Approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 has hearing loss, and nearly 50% of people over the age of 75 have difficulty hearing.
Some causes of age-related hearing loss include changes in the inner ear or middle ear as we get older, changes in the nerve pathways from the ear to the brain, and medication that is treating one or more medical conditions.
Noise-induced hearing loss is caused by long-term exposure to loud sounds such as sirens, explosions, loud music, machinery noise, and a loud workplace. Other activities such as attending loud concerts and target-shooting can also diminish our sense of hearing. The longer we are exposed to loud noises, the higher our risk of having hearing loss.
Hearing loss due to the buildup of wax in the ear is temporary. However, if the earwax buildup remains in place for a while and is not removed by a medical professional, it can lead to an ear infection.
Ironically, a common cause of long-term earwax buildup is at-home removal. Using cotton swabs, bobby pins, and other objects can push the wax deeper, creating a blockage. Frequent use of earbuds can also lead to earwax buildup, since they prevent the earwax from naturally coming out of the ear canals – and the earbuds can also contribute to pushing the wax back up into the ear.
An ear infection can block sound from traveling through the ear canal or middle ear. Ear infections are common in children, but they can also occur in adults.
Types of ear infections that can cause hearing loss include:
- Inflammation of the ear canal, known as “swimmer’s ear” (otitis externa)
- Middle ear infection (otitis media)
- Fluid in the space behind the eardrum (otitis media with effusion)
- Viral infection of the cochlea
Hearing loss due to an ear infection is usually temporary; hence, normal hearing usually fully returns after treatment, or after the infection is cleared.
Certain illnesses and health issues may also affect your ability to hear, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. Head trauma and brain injury may also lead to permanent hearing loss.
Medicines can also impact your hearing. Medications that are ototoxic are used to treat serious infections, cancer, and heart disease. Usually, the first sign of ototoxicity is ringing in the ears, and hearing loss may develop over time.
Some over-the-counter drugs are ototoxic as well, such as antibiotics, aspirin, and diuretics. Taking too much of these can damage the inner ear, sometimes permanently. Consult your doctor about the medicines you are taking.
Hereditary hearing loss is a genetic trait passed from a parent who also has hearing loss. The trait may already be present at childbirth (congenital), but it usually develops over time.
Otosclerosis, for instance, is a hereditary disease in the ear. It is the abnormal growth of spongy bone in the middle ear, thereby causing progressive deafness.
Consult with an Ear Doctor
Learning the causes of hearing loss can help you prevent unnecessary exposure to things that can cause hearing loss in the first place. If you are noticing signs of hearing loss, consult your ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor right away.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced doctors, contact our caring staff at Georgetown ENT today by calling us at (512) 869-0604 or by filling out our appointment request form online now. We look forward to seeing you here.