Hearing Loss
(Deafness)

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What are forms of hearing loss?

Hearing loss, or deafness, can be present at birth (congenital), or become evident later in life (acquired). The distinction between acquired and congenital deafness specifies only the time that the deafness appears. It does not specify whether the cause of the deafness is genetic (inherited).

Acquired deafness may or may not be genetic. For example, it may be a manifestation of a delayed-onset form of genetic deafness. Alternatively, acquired deafness may be due to damage to the ear due to noise or from other conditions.

Congenital deafness similarly may or may not be genetic. For example, it may be associated with a white forelock, and be caused by a genetic disease called Waardenburg syndrome. In fact, more than half of congenital hearing loss is inherited. Alternatively, congenital deafness may be due to a condition or infection to which the mother was exposed during pregnancy, such as the rubella virus.

What are the types of hearing loss?

Hearing loss can also be classified based on which portions of the hearing system (auditory system) are affected. When the nervous system is affected, it is referred to as sensorineural hearing loss. When the portions of the ear that are responsible for transmitting the sound to the nerves are affected, it is referred to as conductive hearing loss.

Conditions affecting the cochlea, eighth cranial nerve, spinal cord, or brain cause sensorineural hearing loss. Examples include:

Conditions that affect the ear canal, eardrum (tympanic membrane), and middle ear lead to conductive hearing loss. Examples of conductive hearing loss include:

Anatomy of the Ear

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Hearing Loss - Symptoms Question: Did your hearing loss occur gradually? What were your symptoms?
Hearing Loss - Treatment Question: Depending on your diagnosis, what kinds of treatment have you received for your hearing loss?

Hearing Loss Prevention Tips

Everyone. No matter how old or young you are, too much exposure to loud noise can permanently damage your hearing. Whether it's the screech of a chain saw, the sudden blast of a hunting rifle, or the roar of a lawn mower, exposure to loud sounds can cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

NIHL is serious. Some 30 million people are at risk in the workplace, in recreational settings, and at home. In fact, it is the second most self reported work-related illness or injury. Already, 22 million American adults ages 20 to 69 have permanently damaged their hearing from exposure to loud sounds.

What is the WISE EARS!® campaign?

To help prevent NIHL, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) has teamed with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and diverse national organizations to create the WISE EARS!® health education campaign. WISE EARS!® is spreading the word that:

  • Hearing matters
  • NIHL is preventable.
  • WISE EARS!® can last a lifetime.

SOURCE: www.nidcd.nih.gov