The Causes of Acquired Hearing Loss

The Causes of Acquired Hearing Loss

In Hearing Loss by Michael L. Schneller, HIS

Michael L. Schneller, HIS
Latest posts by Michael L. Schneller, HIS (see all)

The number of people with hearing loss in the United States is steadily increasing. Since 2005, the number of hearing impaired people in the US has increased from 31.5 million to 48 million. If people can understand how an acquired hearing loss occurs, perhaps they can take the steps to avoid such conditions. An acquired hearing loss is an injury that appears after birth. It can occur at any time in one’s life as a result of an illness or injury or genetic factors.


Premature babies are babies who are born at 37 weeks or earlier. Since a normal pregnancy lasts about 40 weeks, premature babies have less time to develop in the womb. This makes them more likely to have health complications and birth defects.  Some of the health issues that may affect premature babies include vision and hearing problems. This is because the final stages of vision and hearing development occur in the last few weeks of pregnancy. Experts note premature birth is responsible for 35 percent of instances of vision impairment and 25 percent of instances of cognitive or hearing impairment.


Jaundice that is severe enough to require a blood transfusion can also result in hearing loss. This is related to the potential damage that high levels of bilirubin can cause to the nerves of hearing.


The highest risk of hearing loss is present if the mother has the illness during pregnancy or passes the infection to her baby during birth. The amount of hearing loss that can result varies widely and some babies show no hearing loss at all, even if they have one of these infections. These infections can affect other systems in the body as well and medical professionals will need extensive birth history and test information to identify these infections as a cause for hearing loss.

 The primary infections are

  • Toxoplasmosis (Cat-scratch disease)
  • Syphilis
  • Rubella (German Measles)
  • Cytomegalovirus (also known as CMV)
  • Herpes


Traumatic brain injury can result in a variety of problems related to the ear, including hearing loss, dizziness, vertigo, and tinnitus. Because of the sudden and violent nature of the injury, head trauma may cause damage to the auditory pathway.

Ototoxic Medications

Medications that are known to be ototoxic (damaging to hearing) are sometimes prescribed to babies to treat serious infections or birth complications. The most common ototoxic medications are a family of antibiotics called aminoglycosides, with names such as gentamycin, tobramycin, kanamycin, and streptomycin.

Hearing loss resulting from the use of these antibiotics may also have a genetic component. Ototoxic medications present more of a risk to hearing when they are used multiple times or in combination with other medications, such as diuretics. Although cancer in infants and young children is rare, there are some chemotherapy drugs that are used which are also ototoxic, especially when used to treat tumors that are in the skull.

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

Many enjoyable sounds that we hear every day are at safe levels that won’t damage our hearing. However, sounds can be harmful when they are too loud—even for a short time—or when they are long lasting, even if they are not quite as loud. These sounds can damage part of the inner ear and cause permanent hearing loss. This permanent hearing loss can then worsen over a lifetime.

Hearing loss from noise can happen to anyone at any age. Analyses from nationally representative health interview and examination surveys found that about one in seven U.S. teens ages 12 to 19 years (13-18 percent), and nearly one in four (24 percent) U.S. adults ages 20 to 69 years has features of their hearing test in one or both ears that suggest noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).

Focus Hearing

If you can understand how injuries to your hearing can occur it may be easier for you to avoid and injury in the first place.  However injuries to your hearing are not always avoidable.  If you believe you are suffering from a hearing loss contact us at Focus Hearing.  We will test your hearing and help you discover the best way to treat your loss so you can live your life to its fullest potential