The Causes of Acquired Hearing Loss

The Causes of Acquired Hearing Loss

Dede Redfearn

The number of hearing loss sufferers in the United States is rising gradually. The number of hearing-impaired people in the US has increased from 31.5 million to 48 million since 2005.

Often known as Late-Onset Hearing Loss (LOHL), acquired hearing loss occurs after birth. It can happen from an illness or an accident at any time. If more of us can understand how an acquired hearing loss happens, we can take steps to prevent these conditions.

Below are some of the most common forms of acquired hearing loss:

1. Ear infections

Hearing loss is a common cause of ear infections. Also known as acute otitis media, diseases of the middle ear are common among young children and cause discomfort, pain, and inner ear inflammation.

When too much fluid builds up in the space behind the eardrum, this can block the eardrum and middle ear bones movement, which contributes to hearing problems.

Younger children are more likely to develop infections in the middle ear because their immune systems are not as advanced, making it difficult for them to fend off respiratory diseases. Moreover, their Eustachian tubes begin more horizontally, making fluid more challenging to drain from the ear.

2. Drugs harmful to the ears (Ototoxicity)

Ototoxicity is when the drug causes a person to experience hearing or balance problems. This can happen if someone is on a high dose of a drug treating cancer, illnesses, or other diseases. Ototoxicity is harmful to the ear inside. This part of the ear absorbs sounds and delivers them and maintains equilibrium.

The severity of the hearing loss depends on:

  • the type of drug.
  • How much medicine the individual has received
  • how long the individual has taken the medication.

3. Infections

A variety of infections can often lead to hearing loss, including:

Meningitis: Recovery from bacterial meningitis can take a long time, and often can lead to long-term complications, such as hearing loss or brain injury.

Measles: The CDC reveals that in about 1 in 10 measles cases, ear infections occur, and the results can be an irreversible hearing loss for some. Hearing issues arise because measles affects the brain’s nerves-a disorder in which brain swelling occurs.

Encephalitis: People with encephalitis frequently experience mild flu-like symptoms.  In more complicated situations, people may have speech or hearing difficulties.

Flu: Congestion builds up in the middle ear when you have a cold or flu, which makes it harder for the sound waves to pass through the ear. In certain sporadic cases, the flu virus can affect the nerves in the ear and cause irreversible damage to the hearing.

Mumps: We’re also not sure exactly how mumps causes hearing damage. Some experts think the cochlea, the snail-shaped structure in your ear, could be harmed. Those who most likely lose hearing from mumps have sensorineural hearing loss. It is always in one ear— known as one-sided hearing loss or unilateral deafness.

Head injury: Also known as Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a brain injury that may occur when something passes through the skull and into the brain through a hit or blow to the head. No matter what sort of TBI you have, there’s significant harm to the brain. TBI can cause difficulty hearing, talking, though, and swallowing. In school, at work, and in daily activities, these issues will affect you.

4. Loud noises

The exposure to loud sound levels is one of the most common and yet entirely preventable causes of irreversible sensorineural hearing loss.

High noise levels first cause temporary hearing loss, and then permanent damage within the cochlea to the sensory hair cells. And anyone may be exposed to sounds which can damage their hearing.

The noise created by different modes of transport (aircraft, subways, trains) and home appliances (stereo speakers, power tools, lawnmowers, hairdryers) can be harmful to hearing depending on the time and distance of exposure to the source of the noise. For certain music shows, even some toys can create intense sound, and definitely, sound rates can harm hearing.

If you are worried that you might have hearing loss due to one of the above problems, see your doctor and then contact us to make an appointment with one of our hearing specialists.