What causes hearing loss?
The most common causes of hearing loss are noise and ageing, although genetics and disease also play a big part.
Ageing is one of the main causes of hearing loss. This is natural and happens to just about everyone. The process starts as early as our 30s or 40s. By the time we are in our 80s, more than half of us will have significant hearing loss.
Loud sound is also a major cause of damage to hearing. Noise is all around us: in the workplace, in the street, in shops, bars and discos, from stereos and mp3 players. Our ears are delicate and sensitive, and all this noise takes its toll. Noise levels of only 85 dB can cause damage to your hearing – yet this is equivalent to the sound of traffic in a busy street.
Excessive noise causes two types of hearing loss:
- Temporary threshold shift – usually a dullness in your hearing which might last a few hours or even days.
- Permanent threshold shift – follows regular or prolonged exposure to excessive noise; or an exposure to very high sound levels.
Genetic factors can also cause hearing loss and deafness. In fact, genetics play a part in around half of all cases of profound deafness. Genes can make you more susceptible to noise damage.
A variety of diseases which affect the ears can cause hearing problems. These include Otitis Media, Glue ear, Otosclerosis, Usher’s Syndrome, Ménière’s Disease, Acoustic neuroma or Acoustic Trauma.