One-third of Canadians over 65 have hearing loss. But it’s not just a problem for seniors – younger people can be affected too. In fact, 10% of all Canadians have some type of hearing loss.
Could you be at risk for hearing loss? Here are some of the most common causes:
Noise exposure: Noise (short or longer-term exposure to loud noise) damages the delicate hair cells in the inner ear. These cells translate sound vibrations into nerve signals so that your brain will recognize and “hear” the sounds. Noise-related damage is irreversible. Read “protect your hearing” to find out more about noise-related hearing loss and how to reduce your risk.
Aging: Although people of all ages can be affected by hearing loss, the risk increases with age. The cause of age-related hearing loss is not always clear: sometimes it’s related to a lifetime of noise exposure, while other times a genetic component is involved.
Infections or injuries: Ear infections can lead to hearing loss if not treated, because they can damage the eardrum, the bones in the middle ear (which transmit sound to the inner ear), or the nerves responsible for hearing. Head injuries or trauma to the ear can damage the eardrum (small tears can heal on their own) or the bones of the middle ear, leading to hearing loss.
Other: Other possible causes of hearing loss include Ménière’s disease (a condition that damages the inner ear, leading to hearing loss and vertigo attacks), certain medications (such as antibiotics and cancer treatments), earwax buildups, congenital conditions, prenatal conditions (such as fetal alcohol syndrome), family history, and certain tumours (such as those that grow on the nerves responsible for hearing).
Concerned that you may be at risk? Talk to your doctor about booking a hearing test, and read “Protect your hearing” to find out how you can prevent some common causes of hearing loss.
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