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Causes of Hearing Loss in Adults

There are many causes of hearing loss in adults. You can prevent some but not all causes. Audiologists can help.

You can inherit hearing loss from your family. It is also common for hearing loss to happen as you get older. There are other causes described below. Hearing loss may happen by itself or with tinnitus, or ringing in your ears.

Some causes of hearing loss in adults include:

Otosclerosis. This is a middle ear disease. It makes it harder for the tiny bones in the middle ear to move. It causes a conductive hearing loss. This condition is often treated with surgery.

Ménière's disease. This is an inner ear problem. The cause of Ménière's disease is not known. It usually starts in people between 30 and 50 years old. A person with this disease will often have sensorineural hearing loss. Dizziness and ringing in the ear are common. Sensitivity to loud sounds may also happen. The hearing loss comes and goes, but over time some loss becomes permanent.

Autoimmune inner ear disease. An autoimmune disorder is one where your body attacks itself. This type of hearing loss happens fast. You should see a doctor as soon as possible if you suddenly lose your hearing. Medical treatment can help keep hearing loss to a minimum.

Ototoxic medications. There are some medicines that can cause hearing loss. You should talk with your doctor about the medicines you take. Some medicines that may impact hearing include the following:

  • Aminoglycoside antibiotics, such as streptomycin, neomycin, or kanamycin
  • Large amounts of aspirin
  • Loop diuretics, like lasix or ethacrynic acid
  • Some chemotherapy drugs

Very loud noise. Loud noise can cause permanent hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss is painless and usually happens over time. Hearing an extremely loud sound, like an explosion, can cause a sudden hearing loss.

Acoustic neuroma. This is an example of a tumor that causes hearing loss. It can also cause ringing in your ear and feeling like your ears are full. You need medical treatment for an acoustic neuroma.

Physical head injury. A traumatic brain injury (TBI), hole in the eardrum, and damage to the middle ear can cause hearing loss.

Presbycusis. This is a sensorineural hearing loss that happens as you get older. Speech may start to sound muffled or unclear. You may have to ask people to repeat themselves or turn the TV louder to hear it.

To find an audiologist near you, visit ProFind.

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