What causes hearing loss?

Conductive hearing problems from the outer ear may be due to:

  • Injury or malformation of theouter ear
  • Blockages from cerumen (ear wax) or foreign objects
  • Swelling or infection (external otitis)

Conductive hearing problems from the middle ear may be due to:

  • Infection (otitis media or mastoiditis)
  • A hole in the eardrum (tympanic membrane perforation)
  • Stiffening in the joints of the middle ear bones (otosclerosis)
  • Malformation or a break in the middle ear bones
  • Scar tissue or tumors behind the tympanic membrane (eardrum)
  • Damaged or malformed blood vessels behind the tympanic membrane (eardrum)

Sensory hearing problems of the cochlea (inner ear) may be due to:

  • Loud Noise
  • Stiffening or other gradual changes inside the cochlea (cochlear otosclerosis)
  • A hole in the cochlea (cochlear fistula)
  • Meniere's disease
  • Toxic medications or other chemicals that damage the cochlea (ototoxicity)
  • Viral or bacterial infections, especially those that cause prolonged fever or high fever
  • Genetic traits and syndromes
  • Hyperbilirubinemia (Rh factor incompatibility between a mother and baby) 
  • Kidney disease
  • Diabetes
  • Prematurity
  • Autoimmune system disorders

Neural hearing problems may be due to:

  • Tumors along the auditory nerve
  • Hyperbilirubinemia (Rh factor incompatibility between a mother and baby)
  • Meningitis or encephalitis (an infection of the brain)
  • Auditory neuropathy, which interferes with nerve impulses needed for hearing
  • Skull fractures affecting the temporal bone
  • Strokes or head injuries affecting the temporal lobe of the brain