Hearing Loss Causes

woman strugging to hear.

There are two basic types of hearing loss; conductive and sensorineural.


Conductive Causes: These involve physical issues that prevent sound moving through the outer and middle ear.

  • Obstructions in the ear canal such as wax, haematoma (blood collection), foreign bodies (common in children!) and otitis externa (ear canal infection). See your audiologist or GP.
  • Perforated ear drum caused by direct trauma including such things as cotton buds, infections, explosions - some remain permanent and some can heal naturally. Most can be operated on. See your audiologist or GP.
  • Middle ear damage usually from head injuries, middle infections or a disease called otosclerosis. Most can be operated on.
  • Otitis Media - a middle ear infection best caught early to prevent the above.


Sensorineural Causes: These are from damage to the hair cells in the inner ear or the nerves responsible for carrying nerve impulses to the brain.

  • Acoustic Trauma from prolonged exposure to noise or sudden very loud sounds.
  • Barotrauma from adverse pressure conditions common in divers and pilots.
  • Head Trauma disrupting the nerves of the auditiory system usually from fractures of the temporal bone.
  • Ototoxic Drugs can affect the hearing by damaging the hair cells and nerve fibres. Large doses or prolonged use of the following are common:
  • Antibiotics including aminoglycocides such as gentamicin abd vancomycin being common culprits.
  • Diuretics, especially furosimide and ethacrynic acid.
  • Salicylates such as aspirin and non-steroidal anti-imflammatories including ibuprofen and naproxen.
  • Antineoplastics, mainly cancer medications.
  • Vascular Diseases including sickle cell disease, diabetes, leukemia, polycythemia and other diseases where excessive blood clotting occurs.
  • Kidney Diseases in adults and children are more susceptable.
  • Menieres Disease is a type of labrythitis that affects hearing and balance usually associated with tinnitus, nausea and vomiting caused by vertigo. The cause is unknown.
  • Acoustic Neuromas are tumors in the auditory nerve that almost always cause tinnitus. They are extremely rare!