Hearing loss is common in America, with around 48 million Americans reporting a certain extent of hearing loss. It significantly impacts a victim’s quality of life, entailing their mental, physical, and cognitive health. Hearing loss issues are more common in aging adults.
However, it can affect anybody. Learning the various hearing loss types and their causes can help you find ways to protect yours and your loved ones’ hearing health better.
Here are four causes of hearing loss.
1. Loud noise
Loud noise can damage nerves, membranes, hair cells, and other ear parts. This may result in temporary hearing loss. Permanent hearing loss may occur if the ear’s vital parts are destroyed beyond repair. Damage to any ear part may cause hearing loss. Loud noise is hazardous to the cochlea (inner ear). Extreme loud noise exposure can impact your hearing ability by damaging the membranes and cells in the cochlea.
Listening to loud noises for an extended period may overwork your ear hair cells, causing their death. The hearing loss advances provided the exposure continues, and the effects may worsen even when you’re no longer exposed to noise. Avoid listening to loud sounds and use hearing protection when in jobs with a high chance of hearing loss. This will help safeguard your ear’s health.
Age-related hearing loss or presbycusis happens gradually as people age. Since it’s gradual, you might not notice when you start losing your hearing ability. Different issues impact hearing as people get older. While people can cope with age-related hearing loss, it can significantly affect the quality of life if not treated. Different inner ear changes, including changes in inner ear structures, and hearing nerves impairment may cause hearing loss.
Changes in how the brain processes sound and speech, changes in how blood flows to the ear, and damage to the tiny ear hairs that transmit sound to your brain also affect your hearing ability. While age-related hearing loss may not be prevented, avoiding repetitive loud noise exposure, controlling blood sugar for those with diabetes, and wearing ear protection in areas with loud sounds can help keep it from worsening.
3. Earwax buildup
While ear wax is crucial for sound ear health, including cleaning the ears and protecting them from dirt, infection, and dust, its buildup can lead to hearing loss, ear pain, ringing in the ears, and dizziness if not treated. While some people naturally produce more earwax that may block their ears, others experience buildup because they:
- Naturally produce dry or hard earwax
- Have hairy or narrow ear canals
- Have bony growths on the ear canal’s outer part
- Are aged (earwax gets drier with age)
Inserting objects into the ear canal, such as ear plugs, hearing aids, or cotton buds. If you’re naturally susceptible to naturally producing excess earwax, regular earwax removal treatments can help.
4. Ear infections
Ear infections can affect any ear part, including the inner, middle, and external. Middle and outer ear infections often result in temporary conductive hearing loss till they resolve. Nevertheless, inner ear infections can cause permanent sensorineural hearing loss. An ear infection, like a swimmer’s ear, can be prevented by keeping the ear dry, drying ears after bathing or showering, not trying to remove earwax, and not putting objects in your ear canal.
Hearing loss negatively impacts a victim’s quality of life. Familiarizing yourself with hearing loss causes and preventing them can help protect your hearing.