Medical Definition of Acquired deafness

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Acquired deafness: The loss of hearing that occurs or develops some time during a person's life but was not present at birth.

Acquired deafness contrasts to congenital deafness which is present at birth.

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. Or 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. Or congenital deafness may be due to something such as the rubella virus to which the mother was exposed during pregnancy.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018

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