What Are the Causes of Hearing Loss?

causes of hearing loss

Discovering that your hearing is not as good as it used to be can take its toll on your mood and general wellbeing, but the more you arm yourself with information, the more you will learn that hearing loss is a condition that you can live with. The key to finding the right treatment lies in understanding the root of the problem; in this case, what causes hearing loss. People assume that the only cause of hearing loss is aging and that this is a natural part of aging, but neither of these beliefs is actually true. Hearing loss can affect people of all ages and not everyone who gets old has trouble hearing.

Types of hearing loss

Depending on the part of the ear where damage occurs, hearing loss falls into three categories:

  1. SNHL (Sensorineural hearing loss) or nerve-related hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear.
  2. Conductive hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the middle ear, small bones or in the ear canal or eardrum.
  3. Mixed hearing loss occurs when there is damage in the outer, middle and inner ear.


Aging remains one of the most common causes of hearing loss and a significant percentage of people after 65 report hearing problems to their general practitioner. As we age, the nerve cells in the inner ear are weakened and they fail to transmit sound signals to the brain. This is a long and gradual process that may go unnoticed at first, but that becomes more and more obvious to friends and family. The first symptom of age-related hearing loss is the inability to make out voices when there is background noise or to hear high-pitched sounds.

Long-term exposure to loud noises

Natural wear and tear isn’t the only kind of damage that can occur in the inner ear. Those nerve cells can also be damaged if they are exposed to loud noises all the time. Listening to music at high volumes or working in a loud environment without protective gear increases the risk of hearing loss. According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, the jobs that put people at risk for hearing loss include flight assistant, factory worker, ambulance driver, bartenders and bar crew, construction workers, singers and their staff.


Otosclerosis is a disease of the middle ear that affects the movement of the little bones (the malleus, incus, and stapes). It usually has genetic causes, but it can also occur as a complication in patients with viral infections. Although there is numerous medication that can help with otosclerosis, surgical treatment remains the option of choice among EMT doctors.

Perforated eardrum

Contrary to common belief, a perforated eardrum isn’t always felt right away. In most cases, patients feel a sharp pain in their ear, but there are also situations when they do not experience any discomfort at all. The eardrum can be perforated by an infection, by a loud noise or hitting it with an object such as button bud. In severe cases, it requires surgery to recover, but most of the time the eardrum recover on its own in a few months and hearing comes back to normal.

[expand title = “References”]

Hearing Loss in Older Adults. URL Link. Accessed November 3, 2017

Center for Disease Control and Prevention. URL link. Accessed November 3, 2017


Hearing Loss in Children – When Should Parents Start Worrying?

5 Signs That You Might Be Losing Your Hearing