Loss of hearing often occurs in a gradual manner, which means that one may not be aware of hearing impairment in the early stages of life.  Additionally, many people associate hearing loss specifically with “aging” and may overlook signs of hearing loss if they believe that they are “too young” to be experiencing it.  However, it is always important for individuals to remain vigilant regarding their health—including hearing.  In order to do so, everyone should consider having a baseline hearing test so that their health care provider can document changes in their hearing over time. 

Unfortunately, many people do not take this precautionary measure.  As a result, they must be able to identify loss of hearing organically, and that’s not always a simple matter.

Types of Hearing Loss

In order to understand the causes of hearing loss, it is important to note that there are two basic types of hearing loss.

  • Conductive hearing loss
  • Sensorineural hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss refers to hearing loss caused by issues with the ear canal, drum, middle ear, or problems related to the small bones in the ear (the stapes, incus, and malleus).  On the other hand, sensorineural hearing loss refers to hearing loss caused by issues related to the inner ear or neural dysfunctions.

In addition, both these two types of hearing loss can occur separately or in combination. When they occur in combination, it is referred to as “mixed hearing loss.” 

Causes of Conductive Hearing Loss

  • Deformed ear structures (apart from the inner ear): the outer ear, the middle ear structures, the ear drum, or the ear canal.
  • The presence of trapped fluid in the middle ear, frequently a result of another unrelated illness (colds, sinus infections, etc.).
  • Otitis media (an infection of the middle ear that may also result to accumulated fluid which impairs hearing).
  • Hayfever and other allergies which result in congestion.
  • Damage to the ear drum (perforation).
  • Tumors which interfere with the function of the ear.
  • Accumulated ear wax.
  • Other foreign obstructions in the ear.
  • Otosclerosis that can result in overgrowth of certain bones which impact one’s ability to hear properly.

Causes of Sensorineural Hearing Loss

  • Noise related hearing loss – exposure to loud noise can result in the loss of hearing ability.
  • Trauma located near the head that can damage the inner ear and affect one’s ability to hear.
  • Various diseases or viruses that can attack the fragile inner ear.
  • Autoimmune diseases that affect the inner ear.
  • Hereditary hearing loss.
  • Presbycusis (hearing loss associated with aging and the attendant degeneration of the inner ear over time).
  • Inner ear deformation.
  • Otosclerosis.
  • Tumors which impact the ability of the inner ear to function properly.

Getting Check Ups

Because there are so many different causes of hearing loss, it’s important to get your hearing checked regularly. In addition, you should never lose hope as both the two types of hearing loss can be treated. However, the probability of getting cured completely increases by a great margin if a person is diagnosed at an early age.