Hearing Loss

Definition

Hearing loss is a decreased ability to hear.
The Anatomy of the Ear
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Causes

There are two main categories of hearing loss:
  • Conductive hearing loss is caused by something interfering with the sound passing to the inner ear
  • Sensorineural hearing loss is caused by damage to:
    • The cochlea—the major organ in the ear responsible for hearing
    • The 8th cranial nerve—the major nerve pathway and/or area of the brain responsible for hearing
Causes of conductive hearing loss may include:Causes of sensorineural hearing loss is unknown in most people. Some causes may include:
  • Otosclerosis affecting the inner ear
  • Vascular disease that affects blood flow to the ear
  • Previous brain, ear surgery, or viral infection causing damage to the inner ear
  • Trauma
  • Bacterial infections, such as mycoplasma or Lyme disease
  • Medications
  • Neurologic disease
  • Immune disease

Risk Factors

Hearing loss is more common in older adults. Factors that may increase your risk of hearing loss include:
  • Family history
  • Exposure to excess noise
  • Exposure to medications, such as antibiotics, diuretics, or heart medications:
  • Having certain health conditions, such as
  • Not receiving all recommended immunizations
  • Obesity

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