Hearing Loss: Top Causes, Symptoms, And Remedies

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Sep 17 2017

Hearing Loss: Top Causes, Symptoms, And Remedies

Your hearing weakens as you grow older, but loud noises, earwax , and some medicines, can result in permanent hearing loss. However, the good news is, there are remedies.  Learn to recognize the causes and symptoms and know which remedies to use.

hearing loss

hearing loss

Hearing Loss at Birth

Some children are born with hearing loss. This is called congenital hearing loss. Though congenital hearing loss often runs in families, it can occur with maternal diabetes or an infection when pregnant. Hearing loss can also develop if a newborn is premature or trauma during birth due to lack of oxygen. Neonatal jaundice may also be responsible for some cases of neonatal hearing loss.


Hearing Loss: Loud Noise


Long-term exposure to continuous loud noise can cause lasting hearing loss. About 30 million Americans face hazardous levels of noise at work. Things like motorcycles and power tools also can damage hearing over time. Wear earplugs or ear protectors that fit over the ear.


Earwax Buildup

Earwax protects the ear canal against dirt and bacteria. But earwax can also build up and harden. This blockage can affect hearing. It can give you an earache, or make you feel like your ear is clogged.  Don’t try removing the wax with a cotton-tipped swab or by inserting anything else into your ear canal. This can cause infection and blockage.


Hearing Loss: Injuries

Severe head trauma can dislocate middle-ear bones or cause nerve damage, causing permanent hearing loss. Sudden changes in pressure such as flying or scuba diving may damage your damage your eardrum, middle ear, or inner ear. In serious cases of inner ear damage, you may need surgery. Do not stick cotton swabs or other objects into your ear as it can lead to impaction, infection, and a punctured eardrum.



Hearing Loss: Your Medicines

Some medicines are known to cause hearing loss as a potential side effect. These include certain antibiotics and cancer drugs. Regular use of aspirin, NSAIDs, and acetaminophen may increase the risk of hearing loss. In some cases, hearing-related side effects abate when you stop taking the medication.



Chronic Disease

Certain chronic diseases that are not directly related to the ear can also cause hearing loss. These conditions include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, also have been linked to some forms of hearing loss.



Tumors and Growths

Noncancerous growths, including osteomas, exostoses, and benign polyps, can block the ear canal, causing hearing loss. In some cases, removing the growth can restore hearing. Balance issues, facial numbness, and ringing of the ears can also be a problem.



Explosive Noises

Nearly 17% of U.S. adults have some degree of hearing loss. Sometimes it is caused by very loud and sudden noises. Firecrackers, gunshots, or other explosions create powerful sound waves. These can rupture your eardrum or damage the inner ear. This is called acoustic trauma. High decibel noise (85 decibels and higher) such as in a discotheque or wedding hall may result in permanent damage and hearing loss. Wear earplugs.



Concerts Cause Tinnitus

Loud concert? Ringing in your ears afterward? That’s called tinnitus. The average decibel level at a rock show is 110, loud enough to cause permanent damage after just 15 minutes. Hearing damage can occur with extended exposure of any noise over 85 decibels. Other risky sounds include leaf blowers and chain saws. Normal conversation registers at 60. Tinnitus can last for hours, days, weeks, or permanently. To prevent hearing damage or loss, use earplugs and limit your exposure.




Can others hear your music and lyrics you’re listening to through earphones? If so, you may want to turn down the volume. Using headphones or earbuds can cause temporary or permanent hearing changes. The louder the volume and the longer listening time, the greater your risks may be. For safer listening, lower the volume and limit listening time.



Childhood Illness

Many childhood illnesses can cause hearing loss. Ear infections can cause the middle ear to fill with fluid and cause hearing loss that usually clears when the infection and fluid are gone. Other infections may cause damage to the middle or inner ear and permanent hearing loss. Diseases known to affect hearing in children include chickenpox, encephalitis, influenza, measles, meningitis, and mumps. Vaccines can help protect your child from several of these diseases. Get your child vaccinated.




Hearing weakens as you grow older. You can’t avoid it, as it happens even if you protect your ears all your life. Usually, age-related hearing loss is caused by the progressive loss of inner-ear hair cells. There’s no way to prevent this type of hearing loss. But there are many devices to help make up for hearing loss to help you hear.



Hearing loss is increasing in the United States, can be permanent, and affects young and old. You can prevent it by taking precautions as indicated above. Watch these very informative videos on hearing loss:



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Barry G

Barry graduated from City University of New York and holds a Ph.D. in Physiological Psychology.

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