The Causes of Acquired Hearing Loss

What is acquired hearing loss? If you weren’t born with it, then its referred to as acquired. There are several different sources of acquired hearing loss and many of them are permanent. Here are some of the many causes of acquired hearing loss and what you can do to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss account for 90% of all cases of hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the tiny hair like cells of the inner ear, responsible for converting soundwaves into electrical impulses sent to the brain are injured. This can cause certain tones or pitches to be lost leaving gaps in words or words in sentences. Alarmingly, the cells of the inner ear do not regenerate, and modern medicine is currently at a loss on how to reverse this process, leaving millions around the world with permanent hearing loss. Sensorineural hearing loss is most often acquired though in some instances it can occur at birth. Hearing loss present at birth is called congenial hearing loss and is often cause by maternal diabetes, lack of oxygen, or infectious diseases. There are several risk factors which can cause sensorineural hearing loss and some of them may surprise you.

Presbycusis

One of the most common causes of hearing loss, presbycusis, also known as age related hearing loss, is the third most common chronic health conditions that older adults experience. It affects one in three people over the age of 65 and half of those over 75. While hearing loss isn’t a guaranteed part of aging, for the 1% of us who reach 100 years old, there is a 100% chance you’ll have some degree of presbycusis. This type of hearing loss occurs due to structural changes in the ear and fluctuations in blood flow, common with ageing.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

The volume of sound is measured in decibels. The human ear can withstand sound below the threshold of 85dB, but beyond this, the cells of the inner ear cannot protect themselves from the level of vibration. High vibrations in the inner ear can cause the hair like cells to shatter, becoming damaged or destroyed. However, it doesn’t always happen all at once. At the threshold for hearing loss it can take 8 hours of constant exposure to induce hearing loss, making workplaces with 8 hour work shifts prime for this type of damage. 

However as the decibels rise, the amount of time it takes for a damage to occur shrinks. Every 10 degree increase in decibels is ten times louder, but a 20dB increase is 100 times louder. At 95dB it takes under an hour for damage to occur and at 105 it takes under 15 minuets. It’s important to be aware of the decibels around you. Most smartphones offer free apps which can read the decibel level in your regularly attended environments. When the decibel level passes a safe listening, threshold make sure to wear hearing protection to limit decibel exposure.

Head Trauma

Accidents happen but its always best to be prepared. One cause of aquired hearing loss is impact to the head during contact sports or while riding bikes, skateboarding, sking and more. It’s important to wear a helmet whenever engaging in high risk sports. A sudden impact can damage the inner ear leaving hearing loss along with dangerous head trauma. Automobile collisions are another common instance where people are left with lasting hearing damage. You can’t always predict what will happen, but a safe bet includes wearing a seat belt, every time you get in the car.

Medical Conditions

The cells of our inner ear relies on a constant supply of oxygenated blood to maintain health. Therefore, comorbidities such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and osteoporosis can increase the likeliness of developing hearing loss. These conditions can’t always be avoided but regular exercise and a vegetable rich lean diet can make a big difference for your hearing health.

Ototoxic Chemicals

Certain chemical which can damage hearing are referred to as ototoxic. This often comes in the form of certain medications as well as pollutants in the air or chemical used in various working environments. When you know you are being exposed to ototoxic chemical be sure to wear breathing protection and ventilate the space as much as possible. Talk to your doctor about the medication prescribed to you so you can understand the risk.

Treating Hearing Loss

Hearing loss can’t always be cured but it can be treated. To find the best solution for you, schedule a hearing test today.