Hearing is easily one of the most precious abilities we have, so what causes hearing loss? Life without sound is miserable plus very dangerous! Imagine not being able to listen to your favorite song, hear the voices of loved ones, or even an intruder breaking into your home. Our hearing is vital to living a happy and healthy life. Unfortunately, there is a long list of potential reasons why hearing loss could occur and some may even surprise you! Hearing loss affects almost 48 million American citizens everyday, since the issue is so prevalent it is up to us to do the research and find ways to help those that experience this issue.
First, let's cover the basics. There are three parts to your ear and they are called inner ear, middle ear, and outer ear. It is important to understand the parts of the ear because depending on the type of hearing loss, different parts are affected. Hearing loss occurs when sound is muffled or is completely incapable of being transferred all the way through to the person. There are two different types of conditions people can have, Conductive hearing loss or Sensorineural hearing loss. In some cases, people may experience both at one time!
Hearing loss does not discriminate at all and can affect anyone of any walk of life. An interesting fact that a lot may not know is that around 3 million children in the United States report having hearing loss or deafness. Obviously this is a huge issue for people all over and we have the science and technology now in 2020 to do something about it. The first step is educating people on the many things they could be doing right this instant that may lead to hearing loss or deafness.
Factors Contributing to Hearing Loss
In general, hearing loss can occur for lots of reasons and some are so common it is concerning to see how one small thing can lead to something so serious. The leading cause of hearing loss for most is probably not shocking. I’m sure we have all been yelled at by a grade school teacher or parent for playing out television or radio too loud. It's almost second nature to get in the car, roll down the windows, and blast that stereo on a beautiful sunny day but what most don’t see is the effects this has on a person's ears.
Studies show that just fifteen minutes of loud sound a day can lead to hearing loss over time. Things like this are where we want to educate everyone because something like this can be managed and hopefully prevent any hearing loss someone may develop in their later years. Any injury to an ear or surrounding areas always has the possibility of leading to issues with hearing down the road. It is vital that we educate others on how to protect their ears inside and out to prevent disabilities like this from occurring.
Our environment is another key factor in reasons why hearing loss may occur. Our first environment, the womb, can be where our hearing loss issues begin. Some can be born without the ability to hear. This can stream from many different things like our genetics, medications, or infections in the womb. If an infection occurs in the womb, the child is at risk of many conditions. When a child is developing in a womb, it is in its most delicate state which is why the womb should always be a safe environment in order to have a child with no health conditions. This is not always easy and situations outside our control happen so that is why hearing loss may occur in those who never technically “injured” their ear.
Another environmental issue can be the medications we use, at times our medications may interact with people who have a preexisting condition. In these types of cases, hearing loss is considered a bad side effect and in most cases it is not reversible.
Your genetics can also be a key factor in hearing loss, they are responsible for about 50-60 percent of hearing loss in newborns. It is said as a rule of thumb, if two or more family members suffer from hearing loss, then there is in fact a mutation in the gene pool of that family. All of these are just the tip of the iceberg for the long list of many reasons why hearing loss can occur. We hope by the end of this article you have a pretty good understanding of this condition and try your best to prevent it in the long run!
Age-Related Hearing Loss (Presbycusis)
Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) is very common and as many as 1 in 3 adults age 65 and older have hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is very gradual which can make the hearing loss change not as noticeable to the individual. This type of hearing loss generally affects the ability to hear high-pitched sounds, like the oven timer beeping. Often, the ability to hear low-pitched sounds will not be affected with this type of hearing loss.
The good news is that most people with this type of hearing loss (which is a large portion of the 65+ age group) have similar hearing profiles. You do not need to run out and buy $5000 custom hearing aids, over the counter hearing aids will fit your hearing needs well.
Conductive Hearing Loss
As we discussed earlier, there are two types of common hearing losses. It is possible to have both of these at one time if one is not careful and taking preventative measures. First, let's dive into Conductive Hearing Loss. The leading cause of this disorder is fluid build up within the middle ear which is usually most common within children. Ear infections are very common for the younger age group making them first in line for victims of Conductive Hearing Loss. Some other causes of this type of hearing loss is excess ear wax within the ear, hole in the eardrum, tumors, abnormal bone growth, or fluid from sinus infections. Someone experiencing Conductive Hearing Loss will report that they have difficulty hearing quieter sounds no matter if the pitch is high or low. Within the Conductive Hearing Loss pocket, there are multiple layers of this specific kind of hearing loss someone can have and this is where treatments can vary. Overall, a hearing aid is usually the way to go for those who suffer from any type of Conductive Hearing Loss.
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
Let's explore the other side of hearing loss so that you and others can be fully informed on all the facts of hearing loss. Sensorineural Hearing Loss can happen after someone has done something to cause injury or harm to the inner ear. Sometimes it’s out of our control and it can just simply be our ears malfunctioning. There could be underlying issues in the function of a person’s ear meaning there could be problems with the nerve pathways that lead to the brain.
For someone suffering from Sensorineural Hearing Loss symptoms could be that they experience trouble hearing not only softer sounds but also louder ones. With Conductive Hearing Loss, amplifying sound usually helps one hear better and that is why we suggest a hearing aid. Sensorineural Hearing Loss hearing aids can help to a certain extent but surgery is entirely not an option for treatment. One can have both types of hearing loss. It is important to understand what may be in your environment that can be causing harm for the long run.
Can Tinnitus Cause Hearing Loss?
There are many rumors swarming the air when it comes to the actual facts of hearing loss. A frequently asked question is “can Tinnitus cause hearing loss?” The answer to this question is no but we will explain a little further. Tinnitus is most commonly known as ringing in the ears, this disorder does in fact have an impact on your hearing but cannot actually cause hearing loss. Treatments to this disorder vary but the best way to self treat is to have low sounds to distract you from the ringing, this can be a tv or radio at low volume or even a noisy AC unit!
What about TMJ?
Another question we get a lot is “Can TMJ cause hearing loss?” Temporomandibular joint disorders or TMJ is a very painful problem that many suffer from. The reason this disorder will affect someone's hearing is because of the location of the TMJ in relation to the ear. This disorder takes place in the jaw which is next to the middle ear. Since the location is so close, hearing is often impaired and hearing loss can occur. If you think you are experiencing TMJ it is highly important that you seek professional medical diagnosis because left untreated, TMJ can cause lots of harm to your hearing.