The term “hearing loss” is wide, varied and sometimes vague. Many people experience hearing loss, and not all hearing loss completely removes one’s ability to perceive sound. Adult hearing loss can result from inheritance, or, it may occur due to an illness. Loud noise, chemical exposure and simple aging all promote hearing loss, though understanding different causes is important.

If you or a loved one is experiencing ringing or reduced hearing, contacting an Audiologist is important. Understanding the causes of hearing loss can help you determine preventative measures. More importantly, it’s the first step to acquiring adequate assistance. Take a look at the following causes for hearing loss. While different in many ways, they’re all relevant to your—and your loved ones’—hearing health:

Physical Injury

Sometimes, basic damage can reduce one’s hearing ability. Fractures, eardrum damage, ear damage and interior ear injuries result in hearing loss. If you’ve noticed lapsed hearing following a head injury, resulting hearing loss may occur.

Drugs and other Chemicals

If you’ve used over-the-counter drugs and other medications, your hearing loss may be attributed to chemical consumption. If a drug is “ototoxic”, it’s dangerous to one’s hearing. The following drugs are considered to be ototoxic, and they may be responsible for your reduced hearing ability:

  • Asiprin
  • Chemotherapy medication, including carboplatin, cisplatin and nitrogen mustard
  • Aminoglycoside antibiotics, including neomycin, streptomycin and kanamycin

Age

Sometimes, one’s hearing “just goes” with age. “Presbycusis”, or age-related hearing loss, results from your inner ear’s reduction in nerves. Age-related hearing loss can be subtle. It can also be severe. In all cases, age-related hearing loss is permanent—though options do exist, so don’t worry! Hearing aids are a common remedy for age-related hearing loss.

Ear Wax

A benign cause of hearing loss, accumulated ear wax is easily removable with help of a physician. If you’ve been around exposed grease, high-debris areas and other pollutants, your ear’s wax may have thickened. It may have been overproduced, too.

When this happens, your ear’s wax cuts off your inner ear’s ability to perceive sound. Often, hearing loss attributed to ear wax build-up happens within a short span of time. If you haven’t had an infection, and if you haven’t been injured, ear wax overproduction is a likely culprit.

Loud Noises

You’ve probably heard the iconic, “Don’t listen to loud music, or you’ll lose your hearing!” Cliché statements are cliché for a reason, and hearing loss attributed to loud noises is fairly common. If you’re having difficulty hearing, and if you’ve been exposed to loud music, construction areas, vehicles and other catalysts, your difficulties may be a product of noise-induced hearing loss.

Noised-induced hearing loss damages your inner ear’s hair cells—reducing your overall hearing abilities. Normally, this hearing loss develops gradually, though sudden, loud noises may immediately damage your hearing. In later cases, “acoustic trauma” results. Immediate medical attention is necessary.

In all cases, however, medical assistance is urged. Hearing loss can happen at any time for many reasons. In many cases, the best cure rests within preventative methods. Remember to take care of your ears, your environment and your hearing health.