Possible Causes of
Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss Comes in Many
Forms and Causes

There are various types of hearing loss. Causes of hearing loss vary from hereditary and environmental to physiology and gerontology. Hearing loss is not limited to older people, but hearing issues are more common as we age due to the degeneration of inner ear structures in the course of a lifetime. Some people are born with hearing loss, be it from genetic makeup or other issues. Hereditary issues can also leave certain people more prone to hearing loss as they go through life, either from the aging process and/or from ear damage due to noise.

In between these two primary causes of hearing loss, there are other causes of hearing loss, many of which relating to noise and sound exposure. People who work in loud environments, for example, are more susceptible to ear damage and hearing loss. Likewise, some people take part in activities subjecting themselves to high decibel levels over sustained periods of time, such as using firearms or listening to loud music.

Occupational Hearing Loss: Prevention and Solutions for Better Hearing

Loud workplaces are the leading cause of environment-related hearing loss in adults. These workplaces range from some of the more obvious kinds to many work environments that we might not have considered. People who work around aircraft can exposed to sustained loud noises of up to 140 dB. Construction, mining and forestry are some of the other fields commonly associated with hearing loss in BC. Hearing loss is also common in industries such as forestry, construction and many others.

The optimum solutions for occupational hearing loss centre around prevention. Ideally, every workplace would have an effective, well thought out and consistently applied hearing loss prevention and hearing protection plan in place. While WorkSafeBC now requires this, such wasn’t always the case. Many workers in BC have been exposed to long-term occupational noise which has led to hearing loss; this is often grounds for a benefits claim. At NexGen Hearing, BC’s leading network of hearing health clinics, we work with workers and employers on employment hearing exams and other means of hearing protection and hearing loss mitigation.

Hearing Loss: When the Damage is Done, Solutions Are Available

Whether your hearing loss comes from the workplace, from genetics, aging or (not genetics and aging – these are both very different causes of HL), or from recreational activities, what’s done is done – in physiological terms, anyhow. There is at present no “cure” for hearing loss. But here is the good news: Solutions to hearing loss are available! Whatever the cause of your hearing loss, NexGen Hearing has locations across BC to serve your hearing health needs.

Today’s hearing aids come in many sizes, shapes, sound levels and configurations. Some of these hearing aids are designed for people with mild to moderate hearing loss, while other hearing aids are more suitable for severe or even profound hearing loss. We’ll meet with you to determine the life factors that may have caused your hearing loss, then identify the hearing aid solution that is right for you. We will also work with you to come up with ways of preventing further hearing loss. Talk to your NexGen Hearing clinician today to find out more about how to cope with hearing loss thanks to hearing aids.

Frequently Asked Questions About Causes of Hearing Loss

Is occupational hearing loss still a problem in BC? Even with WorkSafeBC’s hearing protection measures?

Unfortunately, yes. While today’s workplace hearing loss prevention standards in BC are more stringent than ever, the idea of occupational hearing protection has been more of an evolution over the years. That means that there are still many people today, either retired or even active in the workforce, who suffer from hearing loss due to occupational noise and sound exposure. For those who are still working and exposed to continued noise levels, the goal is twofold: find the right hearing aid solution; and effective hearing protection to prevent further occupational hearing loss. For people with occupational hearing loss who have since retired or are no longer in a workplace where noise exposure is a factor, we’re here to help you get the right hearing aid(s) to bring back the sounds of life you deserve to hear.

My mom or dad used to tell me that I was going to go deaf listening to that loud music. Were they right?

We wish that were only an old wives’ tale. Unfortunately, in that regard they were onto something. Hearing loss due to listening to music at loud volumes over time (be that listening on headphones and/or attending concerts, clubs, etc. with music blaring through pounding sound systems) can definitely be a cause of hearing loss. This type of “noise induced hearing loss” might actually be even more common nowadays, due to the prevalence of people listening to music on their phones via ear buds. If you’ve ever been to a rock concert and came home only to have your ears ringing the next day, you know what this type of noise exposure can do. While that concert was a one-off event and the hearing loss was temporary in that situation, repeated, consistent exposure to high noise levels (music or otherwise) can, over time, lead to hearing loss that is more permanent in its nature.

Is it possible to have hearing loss in one ear only? What causes this hearing loss?

Yes. This is referred to as “unilateral hearing loss” and is not uncommon. The causes of hearing loss in these cases are typically something isolated to that one ear or to that side of the head, such as repeated exposure to loud noise on that side, or head trauma on that side, etc. There are also illnesses, infections and disorders that can cause hearing loss – temporary or long-term – in one ear only. Once again, genetics and hereditary factors can also contribute to unilateral hearing loss. If you suffer from hearing loss in one ear, and it has been sustained over a long period of time, talk with NexGen Hearing in BC about how hearing aids could benefit you.

Can drugs cause hearing loss?

Yes. Whether you are referring to pharmaceuticals or illicit drug use, either can cause hearing loss. The first category of medications that can cause hearing loss is called “ototoxic” drugs. In this category are certain antibiotics, diuretics and chemotherapy drugs. The science behind the causes of hearing loss in this category is ongoing. The use / abuse of opioids, whether in prescription form or illicit drugs, has also been linked to causes of hearing loss. Again, the science in this area is not fully conclusive. If you suffer from hearing loss and are concerned that this may have been the cause, talk to NexGen about hearing aid solutions that might be right for you.

What Are Some of the Medical Conditions and Disorders Known or Thought to Cause Hearing Loss?

There are a variety of physical, physiological and even mental health conditions that are either known to cause hearing loss or suspected to be linked to hearing loss. Meningitis is one disease that has long been known for its potential to damage the cochlea and thus cause hearing loss, either temporary or long-term. Ménière’s Disease is an example of an inner ear disorder that can cause hearing loss. There are other autoimmune inner ear diseases that can cause hearing loss. Acoustic neuroma is a type of tumour also known to cause hearing los. In addition to diseases and disorders, physical injury can cause hearing loss; most common in this category are head trauma, traumatic brain injury or concussion. Finally, there are mental health disorders, such as depression, that are possibly linked to hearing loss – though the “cause” in these cases remains to be clear. What we do know for certain is that, in addition to hereditary and genetic hearing loss and environmental / occupational hearing loss, there is also a category of health conditions known to cause hearing loss.

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