What Can Cause Hearing Loss?

It's uncommon for people to know what causes their hearing loss unless it's linked to a specific noise-induced trauma, or a disease or illness. The truth is, we all have noise exposure every single day, and hearing loss doesn't usually occur from a single incident. 

Hearing loss causes can be broken into three groups:

Conductive hearing loss: This is when the hearing loss is caused by something physically wrong with the earlobe, ear canal, ear drum, or the bones of the ear. Having excessive earwax buildup is one of the most common conductive losses. Some other conductive losses can include having a hole in your eardrum, breaking one of the bones of the middle ear, having an ear infection, having fluid draining from the ear, or having a foreign object in your ear. Most conductive losses require medical attention to remedy the cause of the loss. 

Sensorineural hearing loss: This is the hearing loss that occurs in the inner ear, or the cochlea, and is most frequently due to either aging or noise exposure. The cochlea is completely filled with fluid, and inside the cochlea there are thousands of stereocilia (pictured above) or little hairs that work like fingers extending from the auditory nerve. The incoming sounds will move the fluid in the cochlea back and forth, and when these little "fingers" feel the motion, they will relay it back to the brain. When these fingers receive too much sound exposure, they can fracture, break, and even die off completely. They can no longer grab the sound.

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      Pictured above is healthy stereocilia (top) and damaged stereocilia (bottom)

The third kind of hearing loss is mixed, which simply means that there are both conductive and sensorineural components to the hearing loss. This can occur, for example, when someone with a mild hearing loss gets an ear infection. During the infection, the loss may grow to mimic moderate or severe symptoms, but after the infection clears up, it generally jumps back up into mild range.

At Nova Hearing Center, our complete audiometric evalution can tell you what kind of hearing loss you have, so you will know how to treat it. Feel free to book a FREE hearing evaluation to see if you loss may just be conductive, or call us at 833-687-8324.