Hearing loss can the acquired in a number of ways. It could be through illness, an accident, exposure to certain drugs or just part of the normal aging process. Symptoms can be mild or severe and can develop gradually or over time.
Inherited hearing loss
Hearing loss can the result of a genetic trait passed down from a parent. While many of these hereditary hearing losses are present at birth, some also develop over time. There are hundreds of known genetic syndromes that include a hearing loss, including Stickler syndrome, Pendred syndrome, Waardenburg syndrome and Alport syndrome.
Age-related hearing loss
Hearing loss is all part of the natural ageing process, with more than half the population aged between 60 and 70 having a hearing loss. This increases to more than 70 per cent of those over the age of 70, and 80 per cent of those over the age of 80. Age-related hearing loss, or Presbycusis, is usually permanent and often greater with higher-pitched tones. Presbycusis often occurs from changes in the inner ear as someone ages.
Noise-induced hearing loss
Exposure to excessive noise is one of the most significant causes of hearing loss. Loud noise can cause irreversible damage, as it harms the delicate hearing mechanism within the inner ear. War veterans are likely to experience hearing problems due to damage from noise exposure during their service. More than half of Australian farmers are also likely to experience premature hearing loss through occupational noise exposure from things such as agricultural machinery and tools.
Illness-related hearing loss
There are a number of illnesses and disorders that can be attributed to hearing loss, including Otosclerosis and Meniere’s disease. Otosclerosis is a disease which affects the movement of the bones in the middle ear. This causes a conductive hearing loss, which is usually treated with surgery. Symptoms of Meniere’s disease often include fluctuating hearing loss, vertigo and tinnitus.
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