Causes For Hearing Loss

Risk Factors For The Development Of Hearing Loss


Infants, Toddlers & Young Children:


  • Family History of hereditary childhood sensori-neural hearing loss
  • Congenital infection such as Toxoplasmosis, Syphilis, Rubella, Cytomegalovirus & Herpes
  • Craniofacial anomalies including abnormalities of the pinna and ear canal
  • Low birth weight (less than 1500grams)
  • Hyperbilirubinemia at a level requiring exchange transfusion
  • Ototoxic Medications used to treat serious infections or birth complications
  • Bacterial Meningitis
  • Apgar Scores of 0-4 at 1min or 0-6 at 5min
  • Prematurity (less than 37 weeks)
  • Prolonged Mechanical Ventilation (5 days or longer)
  • Findings associated with a syndrome
  • Head Trauma associated with loss of consciousness or skull fracture
  • Exposure to potentially damaging noise levels
  • Auditory Neuropathy
  • Childhood fevers
  • Mumps & Measles
  • Otosclerosis
  • Middle ear infections

Adolescents & Adults:


Possible Causes Basic Information
Wax (Cerumen) A build-up of wax in the outer ear may stop sound from reaching the ear drum
Infection Infection & inflammation in the outer ear (Otitis Externa) or middle ear (Otitis Media)
Hole in the eardrum (Perforation) A hole in the ear drum may be caused by several things including trauma (Damage), pressure, ear surgery & infection
Glue Ear (Otitis media with effusion) Inflammation in the middle ear with associated fluid filling the middle ear space around the ossicles. The fluid stops the ossicles & ear drum from moving effectively and stops from passing through to the inner ear
Inherited May be caused by a syndrome or other genetic reasons
Problem with the small bones (Ossicles) in the ear (Otosclerosis) Stiffening of the chain of small bones in the middle ear prevents sound from passing easily through to the inner ear
Bang on the head (Trauma) May disrupt the small bones in the middle ear that transmit sound
Ear Surgery May damage the ear drum or small bones in the middle ear stopping sound from passing easily through to the inner ear

Sensori – Neural Hearing Loss:


Possible Causes Basic Information
Age (Presbyacusis) Gradual deterioration in hearing commonly occuring for both ears in the high pitched sounds. Affects 1 in 7 people above the age of 65
Meniere's Disease Episodes of build-up of excess fluid in one part of the inner ear cause pressure that affects the hearing and balance organ. Typically affects one ear and causes a low pitch hearing loss which may fluctuate. May cause tinnitus in addition to hearing loss
Inherited Can be attributed to many different syndromes or through other genetic causes. Causes a variety of degrees of hearing loss
Loud Noise (Noise induced hearing loss) Permanent or temporary hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noises. This may either be a sudden very loud sound or repeated exposure to high levels of sounds
Benign Tumour (Acoustic Neuroma) A benign tumour which compresses the hearing nerve, typically affecting high pitch hearing in one ear. Can be associated with tinnitus and inbalance
Infection Of Inner Ear May be caused by a viral or bacterial infection. Hearing loss likely to be of sudden onset and of a variety of severity
Bang On The Head (Trauma) Fracture of skull may cause damage to cochlea or the hearing nerve
Ear Surgery All surgery carries the risk of hearing loss due to trauma to the inner ear b y surgical instruments
Medicines That Are Toxic To The Ear (Ototoxic Medication) Can cause temporary or permanent damage to the cochlea, typically affecting the high pitches. They may include lifesaving antibiotics and some chemotherapy drugs
Infectious Diseases Such As Meningitis Diseases such as measles, mumps and meningitis can cause permanent hearing loss or varying degrees in the cochlea
Unknown Causes If all other possible causes (including the above) have been excluded

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