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Adult Hearing Loss

In Case Of Adults

Therefore, there are various underlying reasons for hearing loss. There are, however, few common factors as well as specific causes leading to hearing loss among adults and children. The various reasons for hearing loss in each of these two groups are discussed below:

1. Age Related

Hearing loss due to age, termed as presbycusis, falls into the sensorineural category. High frequency effect in this hearing loss type doesn’t let people understand that they have a problem.

Gradually, they have difficulty comprehending speech. In presbycusis, one hears speech but is unable to get what’s being said, ensuing in slurred speech. Later on, with increasing hearing loss, one can face speech and hearing problems simultaneously. Presbycusis is generally progressive, increasing with time.

2. Long Term Exposure To Environmental/Loud Noise

Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) or hearing loss from exposure to loud noise is quite common in our country causing damage in cochlea or inner ear. Noise pollution, unfortunately, is rampant and a big issue in India. Loud noise induced hearing loss can occur suddenly and be progressive in nature. However, hearing loss for two people can be entirely different although their exposure to noise level is the same. Then again, while one person can get affected, the other might not. Some people are highly prone to noise induced hearing loss.

In General, The Sources Of Noise Are –

1. Traffic  2. Firecrackers  3. Airports  4. Heavy and Small Industries

According to the 1998 report of National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), sound more than 85 dB in 8 hours or over 91 dB in 2 hours on an average per day can be damaging for our ears.

These types of sounds hit the eardrums or inner ear causing conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, respectively.

3. Genetic Factors

Hearing loss can be genetic or hereditary. Genes are structural units of inheritance in living organisms – the carrier and bearer of heredity. Genes are generally of dominant or recessive types and can be responsible for hearing loss. It has been observed that in a familial history of gene induced hearing loss, many children are often born with hearing loss or develop it with age.

4. Various Disease/Illness Related

Measles – Can harm auditory nerve.
Meningitis – Can harm cochlea in inner ear or auditory nerve.
Autoimmune diseases – One of the reasons behind hearing loss, affecting cochlea.
Mumps – Can lead to profound sensorineural as well as unilateral and bilateral hearing loss.
Adenoids – Can grow and by blocking Eustachian tube, can give rise to conductive hearing loss.
AIDS/HIV – Responsible for hearing loss in several cases.
Otosclerosis – Restricts movements of stapes in ears, thereby giving rise to conductive hearing loss.
Otitis Media – Can occur from ear infection, accumulation of catarrh behind eardrums, being down with severe cold and blockage of Eustachian tube. Prolonged ear infection can form pus and water in ears, creating possibilities of ruptured eardrums. Otitis media is generally acute or chronic safe/unsafe type.

Conductive hearing loss can happen from external injuries or ruptured eardrums from poking in ears. In addition, tumor in auditory nerve (acoustic neuroma), chemotherapy and auditory nerve damage from brain surgery are reasons behind hearing loss.

5. Neurological Disorders

Various neurological disorders like multiple sclerosis or stroke can be responsible for hearing loss. These hearing loss types are mainly sensorineural. Many times, neurological disorders can damage myelin sheath of nerves. Once damaged, these cannot be fixed or created in a new way. This gives rise to sensorineural hearing loss. With time, this condition aggravates to profound hearing loss of about 110 dB – 120 dB with gradual wearing away of the auditory nerve.

6. Medicine or Ototoxic Chemicals

Few medicines can even damage ears permanently. These medicines are known as ototoxic drugs. But these medicines are rarely used; however, many times doctors are bound to use them to save lives. Sensorineural hearing loss can take place from the impact of these drugs. Among these ototoxic drugs, aminoglycosides group and platinum-based chemotherapeutics like cisplatin deserve special mention. Few ototoxic drugs aren’t responsible for permanent hearing loss. They might affect hearing temporarily but your hearing ability often returns to normal after a while.

Again, few chemicals, known as ototoxic chemicals, can give rise to hearing loss. Ototoxic chemicals and drugs are generally responsible for high frequency hearing loss.

See the list below specifying ototoxic elements:

  • Drugs: – Anti-malerial, Antibiotics, Anti-inflammatory (non-steroidal),
    Antineoplastic, Diuretics.
  • Solvents: – Toluene, Styrene, Xylene, N-hexene, Ethylbenzene, White
    Spirit/Stoddard, Carbon, Disulphide, Fuels, Perchloroethylene,
    Trichloroethylene, P-Xylene.
  • Asphyxiants: – Carbon monoxide, Hydrogen cyanide.
  • Metals like: – Lead, Mercury, Organotins (Trimethylene), Pesticides, Herbicides.

7. Physical Trauma

External injuries like sudden blows to ears can damage eardrums, causing hearing loss. Head injury or skull fractures from road accidents can also initiate hearing loss.

Many people unknowingly poke or pour hot oil in ears due to ear pain. This can damage outer and middle ear creating hearing problems.

Physical trauma or injury can give rise to temporary or permanent hearing loss. Depending on the severity of trauma, severity of hearing loss can range from minimum to excessive.

8. Earwax

Accumulation of earwax and subsequent closure of outer ear canal causing obstruction in the path of sound can create hearing loss.


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