What are the Most Common Causes of Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss, even if it's temporary, can be frightening, uncomfortable and inconvenient. Noise, age and infection are just some of the common causes of hearing loss among adults. In some cases, the hearing loss is only temporary, while in others it may be permanent.

One of the main causes of hearing loss is noise. Items that produce loud noises, such as headphones blasting loud music, power tools, shooting guns and motorcycles, can cause damage. It often doesn't happen at once but instead happens due to repeated exposure. One of the ways to prevent this is to stop using the items or wear protective headphones during the activity, whether you're shooting a gun or using loud power tools.

Another one of the causes of hearing loss is having an earwax blockage in the ear. When the earwax, also known as cerumen, builds up in the ear and hardens, it can be difficult to remove and prevents sound from reaching the inner ear. This is typically a temporary issue that your doctor can easily take care of in one visit.


An ear infection can not only be painful, but can also be one of the causes of hearing loss. Noises may sound muffled due to the infection blocking the sound from traveling to the inner ear. Two infections that may occur are in the middle ear and the ear canal. These can be treated by a doctor. More often than not, ear infections cause only temporary hearing loss.

Age is one of the causes of hearing loss that, unfortunately, typically cannot be prevented. It happens gradually and can occur in one or both ears. As the nerve cells in the inner ear break down, hearing may start to diminish and eventually becomes permanent, resulting in being unable to hear speech clearly but hearing noises in the ears, such as ringing.

Severe damage, such as head injuries or ear injuries, is one of the causes of hearing loss that often results in permanent hearing loss. It's possible though that this kind of hearing loss can be temporary. In addition to a severe blow to the head, other forms of injury can include experiencing a change in air pressure, such as while scuba diving, or a very loud noise such as a firecracker, both of which can damage the structures of the ear.

As soon as a person experiences hearing loss, he or she should see a doctor immediately to get the ears checked. It's also important to note the symptoms that may occur, other than the hearing loss, such as ringing in the ears. Pinpointing whether the hearing loss was gradual or whether it occurred for a specific reason can help the doctor make a diagnosis.



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