What are Some Causes of Hearing Damage?

L. Hepfer

Hearing damage can occur when anything creates a blockage in the ear canal. This can be caused by a number of different situations. Depending on the severity, the hearing damage can sometimes be reversed by seeking help from a medical professional.

Listening to loud music can damage hearing over time.
Listening to loud music can damage hearing over time.

Earwax, also known as cerumen, is quite common. The body naturally produces wax in the ear as a means of protection, but too much wax can cause hearing loss. Wax can be removed by a physician using a special instrument or by flushing the ear with water. Over the counter products soften the earwax, encouraging it to drain from the ear, and are readily available.

A sneeze might cause a fistula, a type of hearing damage.
A sneeze might cause a fistula, a type of hearing damage.

Blockages in the ear canal can cause a volume in the sound it hears without producing a distortion of the sound. These blockages can occur from an ear infection that can cause swelling, a birth defect, a growth, foreign bodies in the ear and an injury. Hearing damage that is caused by any of these situations usually can be corrected.

Prolonged exposure to loud noises, such as a jackhammer, can damage hearing.
Prolonged exposure to loud noises, such as a jackhammer, can damage hearing.

Problems that affect the middle ear can also lead to hearing damage. These various problems include birth defects, tumors, otosclerosis, fluid in the ear and ear infections. Birth defects are generally corrected through surgery. Cancerous and noncancerous tumors and cysts can damage hearing and need removed surgically as well.

A middle ear infection can cause hearing damage.
A middle ear infection can cause hearing damage.

Otosclerosis is a disease that is hereditary. New bone is deposited on the tiny bones that are inside the middle ear, preventing normal transmission of sound. This disease becomes more apparent in early adulthood, and pregnancy can worsen this condition. Surgical procedures correct this by replacing the bones with artificial bones and are usually performed with a local anesthetic while the patient remains awake.

Ear infections can lead to hearing loss.
Ear infections can lead to hearing loss.

Developing fluid in the ear is common in children. If this particular condition becomes chronic and interferes with the child's normal activity, treatment is needed. Treatment for having fluid in the ear involves placing tubes in the ears, correcting the function of the Eustachian tubes.

Hearing aids are used to correct some types of hearing damage.
Hearing aids are used to correct some types of hearing damage.

Ear infections in the middle ear cause swelling and sometimes accumulate fluid or pus. Often times this can be treated with antibiotics or decongestants. Occasionally a small hole can be placed in the ear drum that promotes drainage through a procedure called myringotomy.

Hearing loss and damage may begin in the outer, middle or inner ear.
Hearing loss and damage may begin in the outer, middle or inner ear.

Any direct head injury can damage the inner ear enough to cause hearing damage. Noise is a huge culprit in hearing loss. Consistent noise from working in a factory on a daily basis to listening to loud music can damage a person's hearing. Gunfire, power tools, motorcycles and playing instruments may cause problems with hearing that can be prevented by wearing ear plugs.

A fistula is an opening that causes abnormal inner and middle ear connections. This abnormality results in dizziness and hearing damage. It is commonly caused by traumatic events associated with head injuries in car accidents or when air pressure changes occur during an airplane flight, when someone sneezes or when someone harshly blows in another person's ear.

Meniere's syndrome is a condition that involves a fluctuation of hearing loss, dizziness and a ringing in the ears called tinnitus. This can come from a fluid overload and swelling inside the inner ear and is treatable. Some medications have even been discovered that damage the auditory system, resulting in hearing loss. Various drugs that have been discovered are loop diuretics, salicylates in large quantities, aminoglycoside antibiotics and different drugs used with chemotherapy.

Presbycusis is quite common and comes with old age. It is a process that begins at birth and worsens as we get older where we lose hair cells and nerve endings. This happens over a lifetime, leaving most elderly hard of hearing. This condition can usually be corrected by wearing a hearing aid.

Loud noises can cause hearing damage in the ear.
Loud noises can cause hearing damage in the ear.

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