Hearing loss can often happen in older adults. But old age is not the only cause of adult hearing loss. For example, you may also develop hearing loss as an adult if it runs in your family. Other medical conditions could also result in the loss of hearing. It’s important to know the different possible causes of hearing loss because it may be preventable in some cases.
Ménière’s disease is an inner ear condition that can cause hearing loss in adults. The ear produces a liquid known as endolymph, which helps the inner ear work properly. With Ménière’s disease, the endolymph is not produced or doesn’t flow properly, which can lead to a loss of balance and hearing. If you have Ménière’s disease, you may experience symptoms like hearing loss, dizziness, ear fullness, and tinnitus (ringing in the ear).
Meniere’s disease can occur at any age, but it is most common in people who are middle-aged. It is rare in people younger than 15 years and is less common in people older than 70 years.
Otosclerosis is a disease in which the bones in the middle ear grow abnormally. The bones in the middle ear are responsible for moving the stapes (the smallest bone in your body) across the oval window of the inner ear. The stapes vibrate and send sound waves to the inner ear.
When the bones in the middle ear grow abnormally, they put pressure on the stapes and restrict their movement. This can cause hearing loss that can progress over time.
Otosclerosis is more common in people of European descent. It affects people of all ages, but it is most common in people who are under 30 years old.
Physical Head Injury
A physical head injury can cause a loss of hearing in adults. If a physical blow to the head does not cause bleeding or other serious injuries, then you may only experience a temporary loss of hearing. This is because the fluid inside of the ear may be displaced when you get hit in the head. This can cause a person to experience ringing in the ears and dizziness.
If the blow to the head is particularly hard, it can cause a hematoma (or blood within the skull) that can lead to a temporary or permanent hearing loss.
Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease
Autoimmune inner ear disease is an immune system condition that can lead to hearing loss in adults. Your immune system normally fights off bacteria and other foreign substances in your body. But sometimes, this process doesn’t work correctly, which can lead to an autoimmune disorder.
In autoimmune inner ear disease, your immune system attacks the inner ear. If the inner ear is damaged, it can lead to hearing loss. Autoimmune inner ear disease can also lead to vertigo (a condition that makes a person feel like they are spinning), tinnitus, and a feeling of fullness in the ear.
The risk of autoimmune inner ear disease can be increased if you have an autoimmune condition like rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
Adults can experience hearing loss due to diseases and conditions that affect their ears. In some cases, hearing loss can be prevented with the right treatment. If you experience hearing loss in adults, visit your doctor right away, so they can test your hearing and refer you to an audiologist if needed.
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