SoundSpace Online

Explore Causes of Hearing Loss in more detail :

Causes of Hearing Loss

This section gives an overview of how one classifies causes of hearing loss. An important distinction that is not covered in this section is that between conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Sections SoundSpace Online - Sensori-neural hearing loss and SoundSpace Online - Conductive hearing loss give much more detail on this or please visit this Age UK website page for an overview. More information on causes per outer, middle and inner can be found on this Phonak website page

It is thought that something like 50% of children born with hearing loss have an identifiable genetic cause for the hearing loss, but there are many cases where no definite cause is identified.

Congenital and acquired, genetic and non-genetic hearing loss

A key distinction is between causes of “congenital” hearing loss, as opposed to causes of “acquired” hearing loss. In fact, “congenital” simply means “at or before birth” while “acquired” means “occurring after birth”. This can get confusing as it is possible to have a genetic pre-disposition to hearing loss that only appears sometime after birth (including well into adulthood), and also possible to be born with a non-genetic hearing loss (e.g. because of maternal infection during pregnancy), so that “genetic” and “congenital” are not the same thing.

Cause of hearing loss in adults

Although the focus here has been on hearing loss in childhood, it is important to recognise that the most common “cause” of hearing loss is age! In fact our hearing to extremely high frequency sounds (which we don’t normally notice of need) starts going down from teenage years. Although no single factor is likely to cause age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, as it is known, there are a number of lifestyle and genetic factors which are through to increase your chances of losing hearing later in life. A good overview of this area can be found on this National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) website page. Other causes of adult deafness and hearing loss can be found in SoundSpace Online - Causes of adult deafness.

Causes of permanent and non-permanent hearing loss in children

In children the most common cause of hearing loss is otitis media or glue ear (see also SoundSpace Online - Other causes of hearing loss), but in the great majority of cases this causes temporary hearing loss, although this can have consequences on the child’s functioning, although typically less serious than those associated with sensorineural hearing loss (which is permanent). In the sections on specific causes, we are focusing mainly on causes of sensorineural permanent hearing loss in children.