Medical Author: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Hearing loss can be present at birth (congenital) or become evident later in life (acquired deafness). 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 from noise.
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 something such as the rubella virus to which the mother was exposed during pregnancy.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
Pictures, Images, Illustrations & Quizzes
Concussions & Brain Injuries: Symptoms, Tests, Treatment
Concussions are a common type of traumatic brain injury. Read more about symptoms of a concussion, how to treat head injuries,...
Ear Infection Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
Is it possible to prevent ear infections? Take the Ear Infection (Otitis Media) Quiz to learn the risks, causes, symptoms and...
Ear Infection Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment
Learn about the causes and symptoms of ear infections and how they are diagnosed and treated. Read about treatments such as ear...
Picture of Ear
There are three sections of the ear, according to the anatomy textbooks. They are the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner...
Picture of Rubella 1
The constellation of abnormalities caused by infection with the rubella (German measles) virus before birth. See a picture of...
Picture of Rubella 2
Petechiae on the hard palate of the same individual (Forchheimer's sign). See a picture of Rubella and learn more about the...
Causes of Hearing Loss
Alport syndrome is a genetic condition that causes kidney disease, hearing loss, and vision loss in affected individuals....
Amyloidosis is a group of diseases resulting from abnormal deposition of certain proteins (amyloids) in various bodily areas. The...
Bell's Palsy (Facial Nerve Problems) Paralysis Causes and Treatments
Bell's palsy is one type of facial nerve paralysis. The 7th cranial nerve controls the muscles of the face, and although...
Ear Infection (Otitis Media)
Middle ear infection or inflammation (otitis media) is inflammation of the middle ear. There are two forms of this type of ear...
Earwax (ear wax) is a natural substance secreted by special glands in the skin on the outer part of the ear canal. It repels...
German Measles (Rubella)
German measles is a disease that's caused by a virus. Symptoms include rash and fever for two to three days. The MMR (measles,...
Head Injury (Brain Injury)
In the United States, head injuries are one of the most common causes of death and disability. Head injuries due to bleeding are...
Lassa fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever that causes flu-like symptoms. Ribavirin is the standard treatment for Lassa fever....
Meniere disease (idiopathic endolymphatic hydrops) is an inner ear disorder with symptoms that include: vertigo, tinnitus,...
Noise Induced Hearing Loss and Its Prevention
Noise-induced hearing loss may be an acoustic trauma, which causes temporary hearing loss, or it may be permanent due to an acute...
Paget's disease is a chronic bone disorder due to irregular breakdown and formation of bone tissue. Symptoms of Paget's disease...
Swimmer's ear (external otitis) is an infection of the skin that covers the outer ear canal. Causes of swimmer's ear include...
Toxoplasmosis (toxo) is a parasitic infection that causes flulike symptoms, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle aches and pains that...
Treacher Collins Syndrome
Treacher Collins syndrome (TCS) is a rare genetic condition that affects the development of the bones and tissues of the face....
There are three types of Usher (Usher's) syndrome, the most common condition that affects both vision and hearing. The major...
Other Causes of Hearing Loss
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter