Age
Noise
Drugs and medicines
Wax
Injuries
Fever
Disease
Infections
Perforation
Otosclerosis
Malformation


Age

Advancing age is the most common form of hearing loss. Age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, is the progressive loss of ability to hear high frequencies with increasing age. It begins in early adulthood, but does not usually interfere with ability to understand conversation until much later. Your genes and loud noises (such as from rock concerts or music headphones) may play a large role in how quickly age-related hearing loss progresses.

Noise

Exposure to loud noise can cause hearing loss. Daily exposure to excessive noise in the workplace is the primary factor in many cases of hearing loss in the working population. Also, the increasing exposure to music through nightclubs, rock concerts, and MP3 players is causing hearing damage in high numbers of listeners, especially among young people. The recent massive upsurge in the use of iPods and similar devices mean that far more people are now being regularly exposed via headphones to sound levels which are likely to cause or aggravate hearing loss in the future.

Drugs and medicines

Some drugs and antibiotics can damage the function of hair cells or the auditory nerve. Drugs that can cause damage to the hairline cells of the cochlea include quinine, aminoglycerides, diuretics, aspirin in large doses and some cancer drugs. If you are using any of these medicines and have concerns regarding your hearing, you should discuss them with your doctor.

Wax

Wax can build up and block sound from passing through the auditory canal. Periodic removal of earwax can be performed by your GP.

Injuries

People who sustain head injury are especially vulnerable to hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears), either temporary or permanent. Head injuries that cause a reduced blood supply can harm the inner ear structure.

Fever

High fever for a prolonged period of time can harm the inner ear structure.

Disease

Other causes of hearing loss include: meningitis, Meniere's syndrome, benign growths and tumours in the hearing nerve, and viral infections such as mumps and measles. For the latter, ensuring children have received their full schedule of vaccinations is strongly recommended.

Infections

Otitis media is an inner ear infection characterised by the build-up of fluid in the middle ear lining. This can be caused by allergies, head colds, inflamed tonsils and adenoids, blocked Eustachian tubes, sore throats and other viruses.

Perforation
Perforation of the eardrum can be caused by a blow to the ear, a change in air pressure associated with flying or scuba diving, a foreign object such as a cotton swab used to clean the ears, or pressure caused by a middle-ear infection. This can be an extremely painful condition. In most cases, a perforated eardrum will heal itself within two months.

Otosclerosis

Otosclerosis is an abnormal bone growth in the middle ear that causes hearing loss. This immobilisation of the middle ear bones is caused by deposits forming between the tiny bones of the middle ear. Also, dislocation of the tiny ear bones can occur.

Malformation

A malformation of the ear canal can sometimes cause a hearing loss.