There are multiple reasons for hearing loss in adults. This can happen due to an illness, over exposure to loud noise, tumors in the ears, brain injury, or by taking drugs for other conditions that cause damage to the ears. Hearing loss can also come from the normal aging process. As the body grows older, the ear sometimes has difficulty transmitting sound the way it did in earlier years. In adults this can happen alone or along a persistent ringing in the ears called tinnitus.
These are just some of the more common causes of adult hearing loss.
Otosclerosis causes conductive loss. This is a disease in the middle ear that affects how the bones which help transmit sound move. This type of loss makes it difficult to distinguish individual noises in a crowd. It does not have to be permanent; otosclerosis can be treated surgically.
Meniere's disease is a combination of factors that can affect both hearing and balance. This condition usually occurs between the ages of 30 and 50. Its cause is as yet unknown. Meniere's disease causes severe dizziness, constant ringing in the ears, increased sensitivity to loud noises, and sensory hearing loss. The loss at first comes and goes, but is more permanent over time. Severity of symptoms varies from one patient to another. The loss can not be reversed, but with the help of an audiologist it can be managed.
Sometimes, hearing loss can be caused by confusion in the body itself. The immune system can mistake healthy cells in the inner ear for bacteria or viruses. When this happens, loss is rapid and dramatic. The loss from such an autoimmune inner ear disease can not be reversed, but it can be greatly reduced with proper, swift treatment.
Certain medications can lead this loss also. These medications include-but are not limited to-certain antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, and large quantities of aspirin.
Noise-induced hearing loss is exactly what it sounds like-hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noises, most often over a long period of time. The noise could be loud music, a sudden explosion, or mechanical equipment. The vibrations from these loud noises can damage the hair cells in the cochlea, causing them to stop functioning as necessary for hearing.
Tumors in the ear structure can cause tinnitus or loss in one ear, along with a feeling that the ear is full. These tumors can be treated medically. In some cases, the hearing loss can be reversed after proper treatment.
Various types of head injury can cause hearing loss. Damage to the middle ear and punctures to the ear drum can cause loss, as can skull fractures and other traumatic injuries to the brain. The severity of the loss, as well as its permanence, is dependent upon the location, severity, and cause of the injury.
Age-related loss, or presbycusis, is sensory hearing loss that occurs later in life. This happens over time, often in small steps, and normally affects both ears. First the ability to distinguish high-pitched sounds is affected, causing speech to become unclear or muffled. It is often difficult to distinguish between rhyming words, because of how the pitch is perceived in the aging ear.