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The Ultimate Guide to Causes of Hearing Loss

Hearing loss, depression, isolation, what causes hearing loss

Welcome to the Quality Hearing & Audiology Center blog!  We are so excited that you are here.  We are dedicated to assisting you to understand everything you can about the 3rd largest public health concern, just under arthritis and heart disease.  Hearing loss is projected to affect 900 million people by the year 2050, as we learned in this previous post.

Spring is toying with us this week as we had beautiful 70+ degree weather.  But today, as I write this post, it is 34 degrees and dropping with a threat of snow. If you are anything like me, weather changes affect my sinuses!  I my nose runs AND my ears are plugged and bubbling every time I swallow!

Did you know that your ears are connected to your sinuses through your nose and throat?  This is why when you have sinus problems, it can make your ears feel “plugged up” because of negative pressure from inflammation of your eustation tube that connects to your throat. You can locate the eustation tube (runs from your ear to your throat) by locating the muscle that runs from the bone right behind your ear to your collar bone, it is right in front of that muscle.

What does this have to do with what causes hearing loss?

Middle ear/sinus issues can cause a temporary hearing loss, also called a conductive hearing loss.  Chronic ear infections can lead to permit sensorineural hearing loss. Which leads me into other causes of hearing loss.

Causes for permanent hearing loss:

  • Aging: 60% of the people 65+ have hearing loss.
  • As Lady Gaga belts out in her song; “Baby you were born that way.” Out of 1000 babies born, 2-3 babies will be born with hearing loss. The hearing system develops in the first trimester of pregnancy.  This is the most vulnerable time of the pregnancy.
  • Noise exposure. Our world is a noisy world.  If you go to a Kansas City Chiefs game, you will be exposed to 126.6 dB of noise.  Just 5 minutes exposed to anything over 85 dB can cause hearing loss.  After a concert or even a KU basketball game, my ears ring for days—AKA, temporary hearing threshold. For some people, this temporary shift becomes permanent. And many people have jobs that expose them to extremely noisy situations.
  • Certain drugs can cause hearing loss. An example of this would be chemotherapy.  Chemotherapy and radiation are necessary for cancer treatments, but side effects include hearing loss.  This is one of several drugs that have tinnitus and/or hearing loss as side effects.
  • Genetic causes: My grandmother wore hearing aids, my mom wears hearing aids.  As I continue to age, I will follow the same pattern.  My job is to protect my hearing as best as I can so that my brain doesn’t lose its ability to make sense of sound. Other genetic causes include otosclerosis or syndromes that are related to hearing loss like Usher’s syndrome, Down’s syndrome, or Pendred syndrome to name a few.
  • Auto-immune disease or other infectious diseases: This typically will be the cause of sudden hearing loss.

Causes of temporary hearing loss:

  • Ear infections
  • Otosclerosis-the tiny bones behind your eardrum won’t move the way they should.
  • Acoustic Neuromas—a slow-growing benign tumor located on the auditory nerve. This can be temporary or permanent hearing loss

A full diagnostic audiologic evaluation completed by an audiologist is the only way to determine the exact cause of hearing loss.  It is important that you have a full audiological work-up that not only includes the beep test and speech testing, but also a testing that examines how the eardrum is working (tympanometry) and how the hair cells are working (Otoacoustic Emissions).  This can only completed by an audiologist so make sure you check the credentials of your hearing provider.

Take this test to determine if you need a hearing screening or a full diagnostic hearing evaluation.

Comment below with an example of how hearing loss affects you or a loved one.  Also, don’t forget to sign up for our mailing list so you will be the first to know about hearing loss and any special discounts, battery specials, hearing aid specials, or events that we are having.