Do you love going to football games and hearing the cheer of the crowd as your team scores a touchdown? Do you smoke or struggle with weight gain issues? Do you often have ear infections? This may seem like an odd collection of questions to ask, but if you answered yes to any of them, then your hearing health may be at risk.
This is because hearing loss in older adults can be caused by a whole host of different factors, from lifestyle to genetics. Being aware of the causes of hearing loss is a great first step towards understanding how to preserve your hearing health. That’s why in this blog that’s exactly what I’ll be covering.
First, let’s start with a quick introduction to the two main types of hearing loss.
Sensorineural and conductive hearing loss
These two types of hearing loss are caused by problems in different parts of your ear. Conductive hearing loss is caused by issues with the outer and/or middle ear, while sensorineural hearing loss is caused by issues with the inner ear and/or the auditory nerve which runs from the ears to the brain.
Conductive hearing loss is, as the name suggests, a problem with sounds being conducted, or carried, from the outside world into your outer and middle ear. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the sensitive cells of your inner ear or the auditory nerve are damaged or not working properly.
Now it’s time to get onto the causes of hearing loss.
What causes sensorineural hearing loss?
There is a long list of causes and risk factors for sensorineural hearing loss, but here are the main ones to be aware of:
- Getting older
- Sustaining a head injury
- Catching an infection, specifically meningitis, measles, mumps, or shingles
- Having diabetes or high blood pressure
- Having a family history of inherited hearing loss
- Taking certain medications known in the medical world such as ototoxic drugs
- Suffering from diseases, such as Ménière’s disease, or specific types of brain tumors
- Being exposed to very loud noises
- Being obese
Each of these causes and risk factors can diminish your hearing ability, sometimes suddenly, but most often gradually. You can preserve what is left of your hearing by avoiding or minimizing some of these risk factors, such as smoking or exposure to loud noises, but if the damage has already been done there is still help at hand. Modern hearing aids can restore hearing, and today are more discreet, comfortable, and customizable than ever before.
What causes conductive hearing loss?
This kind of hearing loss is largely about obstructing the ear canal, as you’ll see from this list of causes:
- An accumulation of earwax
- Foreign objects lodged in the ear canal
- Tumors or other abnormal growths
- Infections of the ear canal (swimmer’s ear) or middle ear (glue ear)
- A dislocation of the small bones within the middle ear
- Perforated eardrums
Conductive hearing loss is often easily treated by removing the blockage, whether it’s softening and cleaning out earwax or pulling out a foreign object. Sometimes medical or surgical interventions will be needed to restore normal hearing, while in other instances conductive hearing loss will resolve by itself over time, for example as a perforated eardrum heals.
What kind of hearing loss do you have?
If you don’t know the answer to this question, don’t worry. Whichever kind of hearing loss you have, there is treatment available. As a highly experienced Florida Audiologist, I can help you to get to the bottom of your hearing loss, get the treatment you need, and ensure you can enjoy healthy hearing for years to come. All you need to do is apply to become one of my patients. Simply call me, Dr. Michelle, at 305-588-0446 or fill in the online application form.