The Causes of Acquired Hearing Loss
Hearing loss often occurs gradually, making it challenging to identify when it starts to impact your day-to-day life. Whether it's caused by something natural, like aging, or is the result of repeat ear infections, understanding the cause of your hearing loss can help your professional better treat your condition.
As we get older, our physical bodies change in various ways. One of the changes that 25% of 65-74-year-olds will encounter is acquired hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is caused by structural changes in the ear, changes in blood flow, and underlying medical conditions that act as contributing factors.
Age-related hearing loss is one of the most common types of acquired hearing loss and will affect almost everyone at some point in their lives. The answer to age-related hearing loss is usually a hearing aid. There are multiple styles that allow for the device to be worn behind the ear or in the canal.
Loud noise exposure
It's well known now that exposure to unsafe noise levels can damage hearing in the short and long term. Levels of noise above 85 decibels are considered hazardous to hearing and may require the services of a specialized audiologist. This type of acquired hearing loss is common in the 12-35 age group.
The high noise levels from listening devices and loud concerts damage the delicate hairs on the inner ear, which protect the rear from absorbing harmful noise. This increases the chances of acquiring hearing loss. If you have or experience symptoms related to this kind of hearing loss, you may benefit from a hearing device.
If you are an athlete or work in a physical environment like the military, you might acquire some hearing loss from physical trauma. A physical impact, for instance, or a sudden loud noise close to your eardrum, can impact the ear and cause some damage. The damage may be temporary or permanent.
If you experience this type of acquired hearing loss, the first response is to contact a professional audiologist for an assessment. They will determine the extent of your hearing loss and offer you the best advice going forward. This may result in wearing a hearing device to assist your ear in collecting environmental noise.
Existing medical conditions
External factors are not the only way that people acquire or experience hearing loss. There are internal factors, too, relating to conditions and medical treatments. For instance, some conditions such as hypertension and cardiovascular disease impact blood flow to the ear and create hearing loss. Again, this can be a temporary or long-term experience.
The best assessment can be made by a specialist audiologist who will be able to determine the underlying cause of the issue. It could be the condition itself or some medications you take to treat it. Depending on the condition, you may have to alter your medication or wear an external hearing device temporarily.
Ear infections can affect people at any age. They are particularly prevalent in young children who have a vulnerability to ear infections. If left untreated or if treated in the wrong way, the result can be acquired hearing loss and may last for some time or cause permanent damage. Treating the ear infection can often reverse the sudden hearing loss impacts you've been experiencing.
Ototoxic medications are medications that may cause damage to the ear and acquired hearing loss. These can be medications such as certain over-the-counter painkillers, antibiotics, anti-anxiety drugs, and anti-depression drugs. Blood pressure controlling medications can also be risky.
Some of these medications might damage the small hairs on the ears' inner surface called cilia. These communicate sound and information to the inner ear and protect it from debris. Without the cilia, sounds will not be directed as efficiently as normal to the inner ear reducing your hearing ability.
Viruses and diseases
As well as ear infections, some viruses and diseases can also cause hearing loss. These include German Measles, Rubella, and mumps. Prior to the mass vaccination for German measles, the condition accounted for around 10% of acquired hearing loss. It was also responsible for congenital hearing loss.
Mumps is a variety of German measles that still poses a risk to hearing health. If you or someone you know has mumps, it's important to get treatment from a medical professional and seek advice from a professional audiologist. Some viruses that may cause hearing loss include chickenpox and common flu. To learn more about hearing and EarTech Audiology, call this number: 801-399-9955.