Hearing loss and causes Part 2

Hearing loss and causes Part 2

Following on from part 1 of our article on“Hearing loss and causes” we discussed age related hearing loss and noise exposure. In part two we look as some less common causes of hearing loss. It’s important to remember that if you have any concerns with your hearing you should consult your medical practitioner or hearing health care professional.

Perinatal problems

Children that are born prematurely will often have some degree of hearing loss. Newborns undergo early hearing screening tests in an effort to improve learning outcomes early on. The sooner a hearing loss is detected and treatment options investigated the more chance the child has of a successful outcome.

At this point in time in Australia, children from birth to young adults up to the age of 26 are seen by Australian Hearing.


Many common medications that we take to prevent or manage other health related issues can damage the ear causing our hearing to deteriorate, develop or aggravate tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ears), and cause balance problems.

High dosages of antibiotics which are generally administered via an intravenous drip, some chemotherapy drugs taken for the treatment of cancer, and mediations to treat heart disease are the most common medications that can damage our ears. The damage caused by some of these medications may be resolved once the medication has stopped, however in some instances the damage may be permanent.

Some drugs known to be ototoxic are[1]:

  • Aminoglycoside antibiotics (such as streptomycin, neomycin, or kanamycin)
  • Salicylates in large quantities (such as aspirin)
  • Loop diuretics (such as lasix or ethacrynic acid)
  • Drugs used in chemotherapy regimens (such as cisplatin, carboplatin, or nitrogen mustard)


There are numerous chemicals that can also cause hearing loss, and the loss is generally permanent. Exposure to some heavy metals (such as lead, mercury, cadmium and arsenic), solvents (such as toluene found in crude oil, gasoline and automobile exhaust) and asphyxiants (such as carbon monoxide) in combination with noise exposure adds to the severity of the hearing loss.[2]

Physical trauma

A severe head injury such as a car accident, being involved in a fight, fall from a bicycle or horse can result in fracture to the skull, perforated ear drum or cause disruption and/or damage the ossicles otherwise known as the incus (anvil), malleus (hammer) and stapes (stirrup), (the three tiny bones within the middle ear cavity) which in turn can cause a temporary or permanent hearing loss in an individual.

If the trauma caused to the hearing mechanism is of a conductive nature, such as a perforated ear drum or disruption to the ossicles, surgical intervention can often repair the damage, returning the hearing to a similar level of that before the trauma occurred.

If the trauma resulted in a sensorineural hearing loss, that is the trauma caused damage to the cochlear and/or associate auditory nerves, the hearing loss is regarded as permanent, and no medical intervention will restore the hearing. Hearing aids are most often a viable solution to help the individual to communicate effectively.

A single exposure to an extremely loud sound such as an explosion can cause a sudden loss of hearing which is called acoustic trauma. Depending on the severity, the resulting hearing loss can be temporary or permanent.

Acoustic Neuroma

An acoustic neuroma is a type of tumor on the vestibulocochlear nerve with symptoms ranging from unexplained unilateral tinnitus (ringing or buzzing on one side only, unilateral or asymmetrical hearing loss (hearing in one ear is worse than the other) and balance problems. As the vestibulocochlear nerve is in close proximity to the facial nerve, facial palsy may also be present.

Treatment usually requires surgery and/or radiation and often results in significant or complete loss of hearing on the affected side.

What next?

The causes of hearing loss are wide and varied, with many other reasons not discussed here. At Whitsunday Hearing, we can provide hearing tests for everyone from the age of 4, as well as hearing aids and assisted listening devices to individuals who need them. We are contracted under the Australian Governments Hearing Services Program to provide hearing solutions to eligible Pensioners and Veterans. As a truly independent hearing aid provider, we offer a range of hearing solutions from all manufacturers at more affordable prices. Please contact us to discuss your hearing needs today.


[1] http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/Causes-of-Hearing-Loss-in-Adults/

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hearing_loss#Genetic

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