It is widely believed that hearing loss is a condition mainly connected to the elderly and the natural progression of ageing. While this may be the case for many people who are hard of hearing, it is not the only cause of hearing loss and deterioration.
Hearing loss can stem from various sources including noise, traumas, medication, hereditary conditions and others. In addition, age related hearing loss might start as early as when a person is 40 years old and noise induced hearing loss can appear at any time in life. Effectively, this means that hearing loss is a condition that can affect anyone regardless of age. That is why it is very important to be aware of the ways one can compromise hearing and what causes diminished hearing ability.
The two most common reasons, however, remain the natural ageing process leading to presbycusis and external noises.
Age related hearing loss
In most cases, presbycusis starts to appear more tangibly when a person is 60 or more. Nevertheless, this does not mean that it cannot occur earlier. Age related hearing loss is associated with the overall health decline of the human body and the detrimental effects of the increased number of free radicals that damage cells, including those responsible for hearing. Additional factors that contribute to loss of hearing with age are lifestyle, diet and exposure to sounds over many years. Presbycusis is gradual so it is not felt immediately and damage done to the delicate hair cells in the inner ear may reflect in hearing ability much later. Unfortunately, there is no cure for age related hearing loss and it remains permanent, often worsening over time. The usual method of managing the condition is the use of hearing aids and assistive listening devices.
Noise induced hearing loss
Noise is everywhere around us and we are exposed to it repeatedly to potentially harmful levels. It affects hearing both on a temporary and permanent level. Very loud sounds even, if abrupt, can cause irreversible damage to the inner ear parts. Prolonged exposure to noisy environments can lead to premature loss of hearing, especially in some work environments.
Ear infections can be another reason to lose hearing at an early age. Toddlers and children often suffer from frequent ear infections, which if left untreated may lead to temporary or even permanent hearing loss that will need to be managed for the rest of their life. Adults too are prone to such infections and regular hearing checks are recommended in order to take timely action and prevent ear damage.
Other medical conditions
Hearing loss can be a result from other medical conditions such as meningitis, measles, flu, head trauma or others. All these can occur at any time or any age and affect hearing to a substantial degree, including leading to complete deafness, if appropriate measures are not taken to treat the conditions.