Hearing loss can occur for a variety of reasons. For instance, maybe you experienced a sudden injury or have complications from a recent illness. Or maybe your hearing loss is due to a malformation of your ear, a birth injury, prolonged damage, or aging.
Anyone at any age can experience hearing loss, whether it’s at birth, during childhood, in adulthood, or when they’re elderly. Here are some of the most common causes of hearing loss at different stages of life.
Hearing Loss Before Birth
According to the CDC, between 50% and 60% of congenital hearing loss in infants is the result of genetic conditions, including hereditary and non-hereditary hearing loss.
- Hereditary hearing loss refers to hearing loss from genetic mutations passed down from a biological parent, which may be recessive.
- Non-hereditary hearing loss refers to hearing loss from a genetic mutation that solely appears in the child.
Another common cause of hearing loss at birth is malformation of any part of the ear. The CDC also reports that nearly 25% of hearing loss in infants is attributed to complications during pregnancy, such as intrauterine infections, like rubella or cytomegalovirus.
Hearing Loss During Birth
Also included in the 25% of hearing loss and deafness in infants is complications during birth, such as:
- Birth asphyxia
- Low birth weight
- Birth injuries
Hearing Loss in Childhood and Adolescence
Children and teens can develop a variety of conditions or suffer injuries that lead to hearing loss. These may include the following:
- Chronic ear infections
- Fluid collection in the ears
- Meningitis, mumps, or chickenpox
- Impact to the side of the head or ear
- Ruptured eardrum from sudden loud noises, pressure changes, or inserting a foreign object (like an ear swab) too far into the canal
- Abnormal growths or tumors in the outer or middle ear
Hearing Loss in Adulthood
Many of the same accidents that cause hearing loss, especially sensorineural hearing loss, that can occur during childhood and adolescence can also happen to adults. However, adults are more likely to experience chronic conditions that impact hearing loss.
Age-related hearing loss is one of the most common causes among adults, especially seniors. In fact, it’s so common that nearly 1 in 3 adults between ages 63 and 75 experiences some level of hearing loss.
Adults can experience hearing loss for a number of other reasons, including the following:
- High blood pressure
- Ménière’s disease, which is an inner ear disorder
- Usher syndrome, which is an abnormal development of hair cells in the inner ear
- Otosclerosis, which is a condition in which too much bone has grown in the middle ear