Hearing Loss

Definition

Hearing loss is a decreased ability to hear. There are 2 types of hearing loss, conductive and sensorineural. The type of hearing loss depends on the cause.
Anatomy of the Ear
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Causes

Conductive hearing loss is caused by the interference or inability of sound to travel along the pathway from the outer to the middle or 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
Hearing loss can be the result of genetics, aging, infection, blockage, disease, or injury. In many cases, the cause of sensorineural hearing loss is unknown.

Risk Factors

Hearing loss is more common in older adults. Factors that may increase your chance of hearing loss include:Problems that affect the ear, such as:Other factors, such as:
  • Family history or certain genetic disorders
  • Occupational or environmental exposure to excessive noise
  • Cardiovascular diseases that affect blood flow to the ear and brain
  • Certain medications, such as loop diuretics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), or antibiotics
  • History of infections, such as mycoplasma or meningitis
  • Stroke
  • Trauma
  • Previous brain or ear surgery
  • Neurological disorders, such as migraine headaches or multiple sclerosis
  • Autoimmune disorders, such as systemic lupus erythematosus or Cogan syndrome (rare)
  • Not receiving all recommended immunizations
  • Obesity

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