Causes of Hearing Loss

The number of people with hearing loss has almost doubled in the past 30 years, bringing the number up to nearly 48 million people in Manchester, New Hampshire and around the country.

With this large number it probably comes as no surprise that there are a wide variety of causes.

Hearing loss assessment in Manchester

The Most Common Type of Hearing Loss

The most common of these is age-related hearing loss, also called presbycusis. This type of hearing loss is a common side effect of aging (so sadly, that means most of us will experience this later in life). Your Manchester audiologist estimates that one third of adults over the age of 65 have age-related hearing loss; this number increases to 50 percent for people over the age of 75.

This type of hearing loss usually affects both ears. It can be mild, moderate or severe. Age-related hearing loss usually comes on gradually and affects your ability to hear high-pitched sounds. It is often causes by:

  • Natural changes in the inner ear of over time
  • Hereditary factors
  • Changes in the blood supply to the ear thanks to heart disease, high blood pressure, vascular conditions and circulatory problems
  • Side effects of some medications
The most common type of hearing loss experienced by younger individuals is noise-induced hearing loss. As the name suggests, it is caused by exposure to loud sounds. Audiologists estimate that nearly 15 percent of Americans between 20 to 69 years old have noise-induced hearing loss. Unlike age-related hearing loss, this type can be easily prevented by wearing earplugs and other protective devices.

Sound is measured in decibels (dB). Anything over 85 dB can cause hearing loss. Continuous exposure to dangerously loud sounds can cause permanent damage to the hair cells within your ears. Common activities that can cause this type of hearing loss include:
  • Hunting
  • Riding a motorcycle
  • Listening to music at a high volume
  • Playing in a band
  • Attending rock concerts

Three Types of Hearing Loss

There are three types of hearing loss: conductive hearing loss (problems with the middle ear), sensorineural hearing loss (problems with the inner ear or auditory nerve) or mixed hearing loss (problems with the middle and the inner ear).

Conductive hearing loss can be caused by:
  • Ear infections
  • Colds
  • Allergies
  • Impacted earwax
  • Foreign objects in the ear canal
  • Perforated eardrum
  • Poor Eustachian tube function
  • Malformation of the outer or middle ear, including the ear canal
Sensorineural hearing loss can be caused by:
  • Head trauma
  • Viruses or disease
  • Malformations of the inner ear
  • Meniere’s disease
  • Otosclerosis
  • Tumors
  • Heredity
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both. Those who have this type of hearing loss have an issue with their middle ear as well as an issue with their inner ear or auditory nerve.

As you can see, hearing loss can be caused by a number of issues. While some are outside of your control, others can be easily prevented. Talk to your Manchester audiologist today to learn what you can do to protect your hearing.