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.
Other causes of hearing loss
- Autoimmune Hearing Loss
- Cogan's Syndrome
- Jervell & Lange-Nielsen Syndrome
- Medications (Both Prescription and Nonprescription, Including Aspirin)
- Osteogenesis Imperfecta
- Waardenburg Syndrome
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. Mutations in one of three genes that code for a protein called type IV collagen cause Alport syndrome.
Amyloidosis is a group of diseases resulting from abnormal deposition of certain proteins (amyloids) in various bodily areas. The amyloid proteins may either be deposited in one particular area of the body (localized amyloidosis) or they may be deposited throughout the body (systemic amyloidosis). There are three types of systemic amyloidosis: primary (AL), secondary (AA), and familial (ATTR). Primary amyloidosis is not associated with any other diseases and is considered a disease entity of its own. Secondary amyloidosis occurs as a result of another illness. Familial Mediterranean Fever is a form of familial (inherited) amyloidosis. Amyloidosis treatment involves treating the underlying illness and correcting organ failure.
Bell's Palsy (Facial Nerve Problems)
Bell's palsy is one type of facial nerve paralysis. The seventh cranial nerve controls the muscles of the face, and although scientists do not know the exact cause of Bell's palsy, they think it may be due to nerve damage from an infection, for example, the flu, common cold viruses, and more serious infections like meningitis. The symptoms of Bell's palsy vary from person to person, but can include mild weakness to total paralysis, dry eye, dry mouth, eyelid drooping, drooling, mouth drooping, dry mouth, changes in taste, and excessive tearing in one eye.
Cauliflower ear, or "boxer's ear," is caused by an injury to the ear, usually by blunt trauma from sports such as boxing, wrestling, or martial arts. When hematomas form, infection and eardrum injury may occur in addition to hearing loss if not treated. Treatment goals are to drain blood from hematomas, treat infection, and at times administer antibiotics to prevent further infection.
Earwax (ear wax) is a natural substance secreted by special glands in the skin on the outer part of the ear canal. It repels water, and traps dust and sand particles. Usually a small amount of wax accumulates, dries up, and then falls out of the ear canal carrying with it unwanted particles. Under ideal circumstances, you should never have to clean your ear canals. The absence of ear wax may result in dry, itchy ears, and even infection. Ear wax may accumulate in the ear for a variety of reasons including; narrowing of the ear canal, production of less ear wax due to aging, or an overproduction of ear wax in response to trauma or blockage within the ear canal.
Foreign Objects or Insects in the Ear
Objects or insects in the ear can be placed in the ear by patients themselves or an insect crawling in the ear. Earwax can also cause ear problems if Q-tips are overused to clean the ears. Symptoms of an object in the ear are inflammation and sensitivity, redness, or discharge of pus or blood. When to seek medical care for an object or insect in the ear is included in the article information.
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, mumps, and rubella) vaccine prevents this disease.
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 generally classified by the location of the blood within the skull, these include epidural hematoma, subdural hematoma, subarachnoid bleed, intracranial bleed, sheer injury, edema, and skull fracture. Some common symptoms of a head injury include vomiting, bleeding from the ear, speech difficulties, paralysis, difficulty swallowing, and body numbness. Treatment of a head injury depends on the type and severity of the injury.
How Can I Unclog My Ears at Home?
Clogged or stuffy ears may cause considerable discomfort that includes ear fullness, dizziness, muffled hearing, ringing in the ears and ear pain. Home remedies to unclog your ears include chewing, ear irrigation, performing the Valsalva maneuver, applying warm compresses, using OTC nasal decongestants or or putting oil drops or hydrogen peroxide into the affected ear.
How Long Does It Take to Recover From Cochlear Implant Surgery?
Cochlear implant surgery is a surgical procedure that involves placing (implanting) a small electronic device into the ear to help the person hear well. The implant is placed when someone is not able to hear and understand spoken words even after using hearing aids. The cochlear implant sends electrical signals to the nerve involved in hearing (cochlear nerve).
Lassa fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever that causes flu-like symptoms. Ribavirin is the standard treatment for Lassa fever. Hearing loss is a common complication of Lassa fever.
Meniere disease (idiopathic endolymphatic hydrops) is an inner ear disorder with symptoms that include vertigo, tinnitus, hearing loss, and the sensation of ear fullness. The primary treatments for Meniere disease are diuretics, anti-vertigo, anti-nausea, and low salt diets. Surgery may be recommended if the vertigo cannot be controlled with medication.
Middle Ear Infection (Otitis Media)
Middle ear infection (otitis media) is inflammation of the middle ear. There are two forms of this type of ear infection, acute and chronic. Acute otitis media is generally short in duration, and chronic otitis media generally lasts several weeks. Babies, toddlers, and children with a middle ear infection may be irritable, pull and tug at their ears, and experience numerous other symptoms and signs. Treatment depends upon the type of ear infection.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS)
Multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms vary from person to person, and can last for days to months without periods of remission. Symptoms of MS include sexual problems and problems with the bowel, bladder, eyes, muscles, speech, swallowing, brain, and nervous system. The early symptoms and signs of multiple sclerosis usually start between age 20 and 40. MS in children, teens, and those over age 40 is rare. Treatment options for multiple sclerosis vary depending on the type and severity of symptoms. Medications may be prescribed to manage MS symptoms.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Early Warning Signs and Types
Multiple sclerosis (MS) can be thought of as an immune-mediated inflammatory process involving different areas of the central nervous system (CNS) at various points in time. Early warning signs and symptoms of MS in children, teens, and adults are similar; however, children and teens with pediatric also may have seizures and a complete lack of energy. Adults with MS do not have these signs and symptoms. Other signs and symptoms of MS include inflammation of the optic nerve (optic neuritis), changes in vision, Wiping or having tissues around the eye and moving the eye may be painful, and double vision. There are four types of MS, relapsing remitting MS (RRMS), secondary progressive MS (SPMS), primary progressive MS (PPMS), and progressive relapsing MD (PRMS).
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 acoustic trauma. Experts agree that continual exposure to more then 85 dBs (decibels) is dangerous to the ears. Ear plugs and ear muffs can help prevent noise-induced hearing loss as well as decreasing exposure to loud noises.
Paget's disease is a chronic bone disorder due to irregular breakdown and formation of bone tissue. Symptoms of Paget's disease include bone pain, headaches and hearing loss, pressure on nerves, increased head size, hip pain, and damage to cartilage of joints.
Swimmer's Ear (External Otitis)
Swimmer's ear (external otitis) is an infection of the skin that covers the outer ear canal. Causes of swimmer's ear include excessive water exposure that leads to trapped bacteria in the ear canal. Symptoms of simmer's include a feeling of fullness in the ear, itching, and ear pain. Chronic swimmer's ear may be caused by eczema, seborrhea, fungus, chronic irritation, and other conditions. Common treatment includes antibiotic ear drops.
Toxoplasmosis (toxo) is a parasitic infection that causes flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes, and muscle aches and pains that may last from a few days to several weeks. Toxoplasmosis can be contracted by touching the hands to the mouth after gardening, cleaning a cat's litter box, or anything that came into contact with cat feces. Toxoplasmosis can also be contracted by eating raw or partly cooked meat, especially pork or lamb, or touching the hands to the mouth after contact with raw or undercooked meat
Treacher Collins Syndrome
Treacher Collins syndrome (TCS) is a rare genetic condition that affects the development of the bones and tissues of the face. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and include: Malformations of the eyes Anomalies of the structures of the external and middle ear Feeding or swallowing difficulties. Treatment of symptoms requires a multidisciplinary approach. Sometimes surgery may help relieve a patient's symptoms.
There are three types of Usher (Usher's) syndrome, the most common condition that affects both vision and hearing. The major symptoms of Usher syndrome include retinitis pigmentosa (night-blindness and a loss of peripheral vision), and hearing loss. Usher syndrome is a genetic condition. There is no cure for Usher syndrome.
What Are the Symptoms of a Mastoid Infection?
What is a mastoid infection, and what causes it? Learn the signs of mastoiditis and how it is diagnosed and treated.
What Happens After Endolymphatic Sac Decompression Surgery?
Endolymphatic sac decompression surgery is done to drain excess fluid from the inner ear. After this surgery, the operated ear is covered with a Glasscock dressing, which is a special dressing applied to keep the pressure on the site to reduce swelling. There is usually some tenderness and discomfort in the operated ear and throat (from the breathing tube inserted during surgery), which may be controlled by painkillers.
What Is an Endolymphatic Shunt?
An endolymphatic shunt is a surgical procedure that involves placing a small silicone tube in the inner ear to drain excess fluid. This procedure can reverse damage to the ear due to fluid buildup.
Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter