Causes of Hearing Loss

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Causes of Hearing Loss

You might be surprised to learn that there are different types of hearing loss, and that hearing loss can have many different causes as well. Hearing loss generally falls under two types:

  1. Sensorineural Hearing Loss (SNHL) - this type of hearing loss is nerve-related and happens when the inner ear or auditory nerve is damaged
  2. Conductive Hearing Loss (CHL) - this type of hearing loss happens when sound cannot reach the inner ear, due to problems with the ear canal, ear drum, or middle ear

There is also a third type, known as Mixed Hearing Loss, that involves both sensorineural damage and conductive damage to the inner and outer/middle ear, respectively. Hearing loss that falls under the category of SNHL includes Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) and Presbycusis (age-related hearing loss) - these types of hearing loss are typically permanent and irreversible. NIHL, however, is completely preventable as it is brought on by exposure to loud noises. For more information on how you can protect yourself from NIHL, check out our other article: Protect Your Hearing - How Loud is Too Loud? Age-related hearing loss, on the other hand, is not 100% preventable as it gradually develops as one gets older and may be inherited. Sensorineural hearing loss that cannot be reversed is typically managed through the use of hearing aids or cochlear implantation surgery. Other causes of SNHL include:

  • Ménière's disease
  • Autoimmune inner ear disease
  • Virus/Disease
  • Ototoxic medications
  • Tumors
  • Traumatic brain injury (TBI)

Conductive hearing loss can be caused by ailments such as ear infections, perforated eardrums, tumors, impacted earwax, fluid, otosclerosis (bony outgrowths around the middle ear) or other malformations of the middle/outer ear and ear canal. These types of hearing loss can typically be reversed through medical treatment or surgical procedures.




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