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Is Hearing Loss Genetic or Part of Life?


Deafness is commoner than many people think, especially among the elderly. Being born with it is a rarer occurrence. The rest of us feel it coming on gradually, as a natural part of our aging.

We’ll get to the various causes of genetic hearing loss towards the second half of the article. You may be wondering if you are going deaf and we’ll work through that part first.

You Are Going Deaf Gradually If Some or All of These Are True

You may not notice your hearing becoming weaker as your systems begin to run down, unless an ancestor passed a hearing defect to you at birth in your genes. That’s because it’s a long-term event spread out over years, even decades. However, if one or more of the following are true you may have reached a marker in your life:

1…You can only hear the television properly if you turn it up or sit close to it

2… You keep asking people to speak louder or to repeat what they said

3…Women’s voices and higher pitch sounds like ring tones are a challenge

4… You can’t hear what other people are saying in noisy traffic and malls

What Are the Four Causes of My Deafness?

There are two aspects to this question. These facets are physical defects in ear anatomy, and what causes these. Our ancestors can pass genetic hearing defects to us in our DNA. But there are also non genetic hearing loss factors as we continue on life’s journey.

 

Anatomy of Human Ear (Image Lars Chittka, Axel Brockmann BY CC 2.5)

Each of our ears comprises three sections:

1… The outer ear, shaded green in the diagram that receives sound, and carries it down the ear canal to where it causes the eardrum to vibrate.

2… The middle section, shaded red in the diagram where the malleus (hammer bone) incus (anvil bone), and stapes (stirrup bone) amplify the movement of the eardrum.

3… The innermost part, shaded purple in the diagram where the cochlea picks up the sound waves, translates them to electrical impulses, and passes these to the brain for interpretation.

There are four different types of hearing loss:

1… Temporary hearing loss may occur due a partial or full stoppage of the ear canal. Causes may include wax accumulation, a foreign object, ear infections, or mucus from common colds, bouts of flu, hay fever or other allergic reactions. The hearing loss may be reversible.

2… Conductive hearing loss caused by wax accumulation in the outer ear, a malfunctioning of the tiny bones in the middle ear, or build-up of fluid in the outer ear preventing the vibration reaching the inner ear. The hearing loss may be reversible.

3… Sensorineural hearing loss caused by disease, trauma, or another disruptive events affecting the inner ear. The electrical impulses can’t reach the brain even though the rest of the system is working. This type of hearing loss may not respond to treatment.

Did an Ancestor Pass Down My Hearing Loss?

There are several hearing disorders with genetic backgrounds. These include:

1… Hereditary disorders caused by defective genes that parents pass to their kids. Most of these affect the function of the inner ear, although there may also be a defective or missing ear canal. We can’t recommend surgery until all other options including implants are exhausted.

2… Genetic hearing loss may be implanted at the moment of conception, if a genetic mutation occurs. The most likely outcomes for hearing are imperfect bone formation (osteogenesis imperfecta), organ defects (patau syndrome) and deformities of the ears themselves (treacher collins syndrome).

Did Something Happen to My Hearing After My Life Started?

It’s certainly possible adverse life experiences can cause deterioration in hearing. A baby may be born deaf if exposed to german measles, mumps, influenza, other diseases, and certain medications while still in the womb

Other events can occur after birth that have nothing to do with genetic hearing loss. Fire crackers, gun shots, explosions, and rock concerts may take their toll long after we have ceased enjoying these things.

There are also life’s events that take place as we follow our journey. Here we think of trauma from accidents, and certain diseases like meningitis, mumps, and chickenpox. Fortunately there are things we can do to control our environment.

Counter Measures to Protect Our Hearing from Damage

We can’t choose our parents, but we can take every care of a child in the womb. And after they are born, we can do our best to shelter them from loud noises, accident trauma and infectious diseases.

Now we are adults, we should continue with ‘wise hearing’ practices for the rest of our lives. And take professional advice to mitigate genetic hearing loss if that’s feasible and medically safe.

What to Do About Age-Related Hearing Loss

Two things may be causes for us having to ask people to ‘speak up’ during our fifties and beyond. Firstly, as our systems age the damage we referred to earlier may become more troublesome.

And secondly it may just be the result of hearing systems getting weaker as we age, much the same way as we can no longer dance the tango with the gusto we used to.

Blue Angels Hearing offers a series of easy-going hearing aids especially for hard of hearing seniors, and other affected people. These quality products price between $297.99 and $597.99 a pair including shipping to most destinations.

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