What causes hearing loss?

When a baby is diagnosed with hearing impairment the first question the parents ask is, “How did this happen?” It is not always possible to detect the actual factors causing the hearing impairment. The following are some common causes of hearing impairment.

A. Congenital Hearing Impairment

This is any hearing loss present at birth. It can be genetic or hereditary, caused by issues during pregnancy or during the birthing process.


Genetic or hereditary hearing loss is caused by gene mutations. The genes of one or both parents make an impact upon the development of the intricate process of hearing. Genetic issues can affect any part of the ear.

Prenatal issues:

These are non-genetic factors which can potentially cause hearing loss. These factors include, infections, illnesses, toxins consumed by mother during pregnancy or viruses such as rubella or cytomegalovirus (CMV) which can be passed on to the unborn child and cause hearing impairment. Strong antibiotics and other procedures during birth can also affect hearing.

B. Acquired Hearing Loss

There are several factors which can cause hearing loss after birth.

Otitis Media:

This is a common issue with young children. Prolonged infections without treatment and repeated cases can cause permanent hearing loss.

Ototoxic drugs:

Drugs used to treat serious illnesses, such as meningitis, might also affect hearing. These drugs include neomycin, gentamycin and streptomycin. Consult your doctor before beginning any treatment.


Age is a common factor which affects more than 50% of people over 60 years of age.

Complications during birth:

Complications during birth such as lack of oxygen might cause hearing loss.


Diseases that affect hearing are numerous and their impact on hearing vary. The impact depends upon the cause. severity and treatment required. These include measles, diabetes and meningitis.

Head trauma:

Head trauma can potentially cause hearing loss in children who are still growing. Use of protective headgear is always important while practicing sports or riding bicycles.

Perforated eardrums:

A perforation of the eardrum can be caused by the insertion of a foreign object in the ear. Usually the eardrum will heal and the hearing loss is only temporary. One must always pay attention when using cotton swabs, these should never be inserted in the ear.

Noise induced hearing loss:

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is hearing impairment resulting from continuous exposure to loud sound such as machinery, discos and gunshots. Appropriate headphones or earplugs should be used when exposed to very sounds.

Unknown causes:

In many cases, one may never really know the real cause for the hearing impairment. It is always important to act quickly on getting a diagnosis and ensure access to language as early as possible.