What Causes Hearing Loss

What Causes Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss can have a variety of causes, ranging from innate genetic predisposition to environmental stressors. The two most common forms of hearing loss are noise-induced hearing loss, which is hearing loss that happens after exposure to loud noises, or age-related hearing loss, which is hearing loss that happens as a natural result of aging. Learning about when and how hearing loss happens can help preventative measures be taken.


Noise Induced Hearing Loss

According to the National Institute of health, noise-induced hearing loss is most likely to occur after someone is exposed to loud environmental noises: music in headphones, machinery, heavy traffic, and appliances around the house can all lead to hearing loss over time. Even brief exposure to loud noises over 85 decibels can damage the delicate hair cells on the basilar membrane. Sometimes the damage occurs without initial symptoms, but some signs that the cells are being damaged include muffled sounds, difficulty picking out sounds of certain frequencies, and a dull ringing or buzzing in the ears called tinnitus. In order to lessen the risk of noise-induced hearing loss, it is important to wear protective earplugs in loud environments. Music concerts, roadwork, and even some household chores are safer with protective devices. Regularly having hearing tested can be a proactive way to screen for early hearing loss.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Age-Related Hearing Loss

The second type of hearing loss, age-related hearing loss, happens most commonly in individuals over the age of 65. By age 75, almost half of adults report difficulty hearing. The inner ear becomes less able to function properly with age, but some medications or health conditions can exacerbate risk. Some degree of age-related hearing loss is unavoidable, but many treatments exist that can help restore hearing. Hearing aids are a popular choice in older adults, available outside the ear, in the ear, or within the canal itself. A health provider can help determine the most comfortable and effective fit. In addition, many modern voice systems are equipped with assistive devices that can amplify sound.


Though hearing loss can cause difficulty in communication and day-to-day functionality, some types can be avoided or minimized by taking proper precautions.

For hearing loss related to aging, many forms of assistance exist. For more resources about noise-induced and age-related hearing loss, please contact us.