While age often plays a role, here are some other causes of hearing loss.

This infographic covers the most common causes of hearing loss.

Hearing loss is incredibly common in the United States and likely impacts you or someone you care about. While age increases the likelihood of experiencing hearing loss, it can also occur due to illness, exposure to excessive noise, earwax buildup, and more. Below, we’ll cover these and other common causes of hearing loss, including:

  1. Earwax buildup
  2. Ear infections
  3. Ruptured eardrums
  4. Excessive noise exposure
  5. Inner/middle ear diseases
  6. Physical head trauma
  7. Age-related

Keep reading to discover more about each of these hearing loss causes.

Earwax buildup
An excessive buildup of earwax can block the ear canal and temporarily prevent the conduction of sound waves. As a result, your hearing may seem muffled. In this case, your doctor or audiologist can safely remove the buildup, which may help restore all or most of your hearing. It’s important not to try and clean the earwax yourself or insert any foreign objects into your ears. If you’re prone to developing excess earwax, scheduling regular appointments every six months to a year can help prevent it from affecting your hearing.

Learn more about earwax and why it’s necessary on our blog.

Ear infections
Ear infections in the middle or inner ear may also cause temporary hearing loss. These infections create a buildup of fluid that may interfere with the movement of the eardrum, which in turn impacts hearing ability. Allergies and colds are also common temporary causes of hearing loss. In this case, seek treatment for the infection and practice healthy sleeping and eating habits to aid in the healing process. Swimmer’s Ear is another type of infection that may cause reduced or muffled hearing. Learn more about Swimmer’s Ear symptoms and treatments here.

Ruptured eardrums
A ruptured eardrum, also known as tympanic membrane perforation, can be a severe but treatable condition that may lead to hearing loss and other hearing problems. The ruptured eardrum may occur due to noise exposure, sudden pressure changes, or infection. Visiting your doctor or audiologist right away will help to determine the best course of treatment

Excessive noise exposure
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) occurs from exposure to sounds at dangerous decibel levels. It can have temporary or permanent effects, occur suddenly or over time, and could impact one or both ears. The danger zone for most people starts about 85dB; at this sound level, using hearing protection gadgets and limiting exposure is essential. Learn more about how to help prevent hearing loss in a noisy world and peruse seven more hearing loss prevention articles worth bookmarking.

Inner/middle ear diseases
Certain conditions in the inner or middle ear can also cause hearing loss. Otosclerosis, a middle ear disease, makes it harder for the tiny bones in the middle ear to move and is often treated with surgery. Ménière’s disease occurs in the inner ear and may cause dizziness and ringing in the ear. While rare, autoimmune inner ear disease can also cause hearing loss. In all these cases, your hearing health professional can help determine the best treatment for your situation.

Physical head trauma
A physical injury to the head or brain is another possible cause hearing loss. Depending on the level of damage, your audiologist will be able to recommend the proper treatment available to you.

As mentioned at the top of this article, age is a common factor for people experiencing hearing loss. It can occur when the structures and functions of the inner ear slowly begin to decline with age. Approximately one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74 have age-related hearing loss. By age 75, the hearing loss population increases to half. While age-related hearing loss cannot be reversed, using hearing protection and avoiding exposure to loud sounds can help. There are also many assistive listening devices that can help make everyday tasks easier.

Do you have age-related hearing loss? Check out these helpful communication tips for hearing loss to help you maintain your connection to others.

In this post, we covered a few of the most common causes of hearing loss. To determine the exact cause of your hearing loss symptoms, schedule an appointment with an experienced hearing health professional or audiologist. To further protect your hearing, review these practical hearing loss prevention tips on our blog.

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