Hearing loss is common. In fact, it is the third most common physical condition in the United States behind only arthritis and heart disease. Turns out, there are a wide variety of causes for this popular condition.
Age-Related Hearing Loss
Presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, is one of the most common causes. It occurs as a result of:
- 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
Loss of hearing is a common side effect of aging. One third of adults over the age of 65 experience hearing loss; 50 percent of adults over the age of 75 do as well. This type of hearing loss typically comes on gradually and affects high-pitched sounds.
Noise-induced Hearing Loss
Noise-induced hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss experienced by younger individuals. It is caused by exposure to a single loud sound, such as a gunshot or explosion, or by continuous exposure to loud noise over a period of time.
Sounds are measured in decibels (dB). When a sound exceeds 85dB it is considered dangerous. Continuous exposure to loud sounds cause permanent damage to the hair cells in your ears. Common activities that put Boone residents at risk for noise-induced hearing loss include:
- Riding a motorcycle
- Listening to music at a high volume
- Playing in a band
- Attending rock concerts
Your Jefferson audiologist estimated that 15 percent of people aged 20 to 69 have hearing loss caused by noise exposure. This type of hearing loss can be prevented by wearing earplugs and protective devices.
Hearing Loss Categories
There are a number of other causes of hearing loss, which fall into one of three categories:
- Conductive hearing loss (associated with problems in the middle ear)
- Sensorineural, or nerve-related hearing loss (associated with problems in the inner ear)
- Mixed hearing loss
Presbycusis and noise-induced hearing loss fall into the sensorineural category. Additional causes of this type of hearing loss include:
- Head trauma
- Viruses or disease
- Malformations of the inner ear
- Meniere’s disease
Conductive hearing loss can be caused by:
- Ear infections
- 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
Mixed hearing loss is a combination of both. If you have this type of hearing loss, you’ll have damage to your outer or middle ear as well as an issue with your inner ear or auditory nerve.
Think you may be one of the 48 million Americans suffering from hearing loss? Contact your Jefferson audiologist today to schedule an appointment. The earlier your hearing loss is treated, the better the results.