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What are the Top Causes of Hearing Loss?

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Hearing loss can happen to anyone at any time and can be either severe or mild. If you experience hearing loss, you’ll want to seek expert help from an audiologist. This type of audiologist has advanced knowledge of the auditory system and can provide guidance for diagnosing and treating hearing loss.  

If you haven't sought out an audiologist help for your hearing loss, you might wonder why it has happened and what might have caused it. There are a number of different reasons for hearing loss to develop; here are some of the most common ones:

Aging 

Aging is by far the most common reason for anyone to develop hearing loss. It often begins in those over the age of 60, and by the time you reach the age of 70, hearing loss will certainly be something you are contending with in your daily life. 

Age-related hearing loss is known as presbycusis and is essentially wear and tear of the cochlea and the nerve pathways that run to the brain. Age-related hearing loss will begin with those experiencing it becoming less able to hear higher-pitched sounds, which is why it might not be noticed at first. 

Noise exposure 

After aging, noise exposure is the next most common reason for hearing loss. The cochlea contains hair cells that are very delicate and can easily be damaged. When they are subject to loud noise, this damage can occur quickly and suddenly. The longer you are exposed to loud noise without adequate protection such as ear defenders or earplugs, the more damage will be done to the hair cells, and eventually this will become permanent. 

Once this kind of hearing loss was mainly associated with noisy work environments or loud music at concerts, but recently it has been linked to earbuds, and this kind of hearing loss is being seen in younger people than ever before. 

Cardiovascular disease 

Cardiovascular disease might surprise you to learn that it can cause hearing loss. However, if the blood supply to the inner ear is reduced or stops – as can be the case with cardiovascular disease since the heart might not be able to pump blood efficiently around the body – then the cochlea can be irreversibly damaged. 

Other problems that can cause damage to the cochlea and that link back to cardiovascular disease include hardening of the arteries, high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke and thrombosis. 

Medications 

Although medications should be taken as directed by your doctor, some of them do have side effects linked to them, such as hearing loss, so it’s important to talk to your audiologist about these medications. They will typically discuss with you how the hearing loss developed from this particular medication, and then refer you to speak to your physician. 

Some medications list hearing loss as a side effect, although these tend to be medications that will be given for life-threatening conditions including serious infections or some forms of cancer.