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Causes And Risks Of Hearing Loss

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Most people take the ability to hear for granted.  It's not until you start to lose hearing that you realize how much you rely on that sense.  The following will provide information on why hearing loss occurs and what some of the risk factors are.

What causes loss of hearing?


Everybody produces earwax.  However, when the earwax begins to gradually build up, it can block the ear canal which prevents the sound waves from being able to conduct.  This can happen at any age.  The treatment involves removing the earwax.

Ear infection

An ear infection in the outer or middle ear can cause hearing loss.  In addition, any bone growths or tumors in these same spots can also affect hearing.

Damage to the inner ear

Wear and tear on the nerve cells or hairs in the cochlea that send signals to the brain can contribute to hearing loss. Aging and prolonged exposure to loud noises can cause damage to these areas.  In addition, higher tones may become muffled.  Another sign that this is occurring is that it may become difficult to distinguish between words and background noise in a crowded area.  This type of hearing loss is permanent and can also be hereditary.  

Ruptured ear drum

There are several possible causes of a ruptured ear drum.  Some of these include poking your eardrum with an object, sudden changes in pressure and a very loud noise.

What are the risk factors?

As mentioned above, both aging and your gene pool can contribute to loss of hearing.  Some other factors that could affect your ability to hear are occupational and recreational noises, some medications and some illnesses.  If you work in an environment with constant loud noises, like a factory, you could be at greater risk for hearing loss.  Also, if you are attending a lot of loud concerts or listening to music through your headphones at a loud volume, you could be increasing your chances for hearing loss in the future.  Illnesses that result in a high fever have a greater risk of causing hearing loss.

The following are some common noises you may hear throughout your day and the amount of hearing risk associated with each one:

Safe Range

Normal conversations

Washing machines

Risk Range


Power lawn mower

Rock Concert

Injury Range

Ambulance siren

Shotgun blast

Rocket launch

The ability to hear is such an important part of day to day life.  If there are any risk factors that can be avoided it is in your best interest to do so.  When you know you will be in a situation where you are exposed to loud noises it is a good idea to consider using ear plugs. Visit a clinic, such as Audiology Clinic Of Northern Alberta, for more information.