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Causes of hearing loss

(and solutions that work for you)

Hearing loss can occur at any age. Although advancing age or exposure to loud noise are the most common causes of hearing loss, an infection, injury or genetic issue can be among hearing loss' causes. Understanding the source of your issues gives our professionals insight into your needs, so we can advise you of the best options for your specific treatment. That's why we encourage you to speak with our professionals as soon as you notice troubles with your hearing.

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Causes of hearing loss

Because age-related hearing loss is gradual, you may not notice it by yourself. Often, family members see issues before an individual recognizes any deficits. Age-related hearing loss does not just impact the person who is struggling to hear. Friends, family and even colleagues can become frustrated when someone can't hear well. For some, only an audiogram or other test result can convince a person that there is aidable hearing loss.

Fortunately, there are options to help your loved one hear better. In addition, HearingLife's professionals can offer suggestions to help ease communication by making simple changes, such as facing the person with whom you are speaking and choosing a location with minimal background noise when you want to have a conversation. Our goal is to help improve health and wellness through better hearing, and that includes helping to facilitate communication with family members when you come for your hearing assessment* or other appointment. 

Addressing hearing loss means improving your quality of life.

Age is the largest single cause of hearing loss. As most of us grow older, changes in the inner ear develop over time.1

The daily wear and tear on our hearing systems gradually reduces their effectiveness. When your hearing starts to weaken, it becomes more difficult to hear soft voices and high-frequency sounds, such as the voices of children and women. Age-related hearing loss can also make it very hard to follow conversations in the presence of background noise, even if parts of the conversation can be heard. 

It is no surprise that repeated exposure to high levels of noise causes hearing loss. Whether it is repeated contact with high volume over time or short-term incidents with extreme levels of sound, both harm the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear, called cilia, which become damaged and die. As the cilia become damaged, you lose the ability to hear. According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 90% of hearing loss occurs when either these hairs or auditory nerve cells are destroyed. 2

At HearingLife we work with you to prevent future hearing loss. To this end, we offer a variety of ear protection options to protect you from future hearing loss. 

Protect your ears

Causes of hearing loss

Certain professions have a higher risk of noise-induced hearing loss in the workplace. This includes (but is not limited to) military personnel, musicians, kindergarten teachers, factory workers and construction workers. Listening to loud music at live concerts and through headphones can also damage your hearing.
Therefore, HearingLife's highly recommend that employees wear ear protectors when exposed to excessive noise both at work, during leisure activities and at home.

Did you know that certain serious illnesses can lead to hearing loss?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in 10 children3 who contract measles suffer from ear infections which may lead to permanent hearing loss. Certain viral infections can directly damage the inner ear, causing sudden sensorineural hearing loss. These include measles, rubella (German measles), HIV, West Nile virus, lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus and mumps. This kind of hearing loss may occur in one or both ears.4

There are several types of hearing loss, including sensorineural, conductive and congenital. No matter which type you may have, we will help you identify treatment options.

Understanding sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural hearing loss causes hearing to worsen over time. Also called noise-induced hearing loss, it occurs when too much noise damages the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear or the nerves. This stops them from properly transmitting sound to the brain. Generally, sensorineural hearing loss happens slowly as we age or with frequent exposure to high noise levels. In most cases, the condition is permanent. Hearing aids often improve hearing to normal levels. Approximately 15 percent of Americans between ages 20 and 69 have noise-induced hearing loss.2 

  • Most common causes of sensorineural hearing loss:

  • Frequent exposure to loud noise

  • Natural aging

  • Inherited factors

  • Illness and infections

Congenital hearing loss may be due to either hereditary or non-hereditary factors. Present (but not always apparent) at birth, congenital hearing loss causes families to address auditory needs from a young age. Genetics are responsible for more than 50% of congenital hearing loss causes.5 Hearing loss from genetic defects can be present at birth, but may develop later in life. Non-genetic hearing loss causes may include low birth weight or a condition or infection to which the mother was exposed during pregnancy, such as the measles or herpes simplex virus.

  • Most common causes of congenital hearing loss:

  • Maternal infections, such as rubella/measles, cytomegalovirus, or herpes simplex virus

  • Prematurity

  • Low birth weight

  • Birth injuries5

Conductive hearing loss refers to issues with transferring sound waves due to a blockage or other impediment located between the outer and the inner ear. It could just be earwax. Hearing loss can also be due to a more serious issue, such as damage to the ear, which may require help from an Ear, Nose and Throat physician.

Often conductive hearing loss causes you to feel a fullness in the ear. We can discuss symptoms and options with you, so you can make informed decisions about treatment. We invite you to learn more about what causes conductive hearing loss


  • Most common causes of conductive hearing loss:

  • Malformation of the ear

  • Fluid in the ear due to colds or allergies

  • Ear infections, including otitis media or infections in the ear canal

  • Perforated eardrum6

Protect your hearing

Take good care of your hearing by protecting your ears in these situations – or avoiding them completely.

  • Background noise

    Environments where you have to shout to make yourself heard over background noise

  • Industrial noise 

    Locations where noise hurts your ears or makes them ring

  • Live music 

    Situations where high sound levels make it difficult to hear for several hours afterwards

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