Hearing loss is more common than ever before. The World Health Organization estimates that approximately 466 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss, including children, and that by 2050 over 900 million people will have it.
Those are big numbers.
Many still view hearing loss as a minor inconvenience. Still experts are now raising the warning with research that links even low levels of hearing loss to concerns such as the increased risk of anxiety and depression, increased risk of falls, and even cognitive decline. These findings continue to highlight the importance of reducing the risk of hearing loss whenever possible, scheduling hearing evaluations to identify hearing loss early and managing hearing loss with hearing aids or similar treatments.
While we’re often familiar with common causes of hearing loss, such as noise exposure, aging, and genetics, there are several more unusual causes of hearing loss out there.
Not the usual causes
Our hearing health can be delicate. There are several ways that hearing loss can happen, including many rare illnesses that count hearing loss among their symptoms. Approximately 400 rare syndromes do, according to estimates. Here are just some of the more unusual causes of hearing loss to be aware of:
- Meniere’s disease – This condition is characterized by tinnitus, vertigo, pressure in the ear, and hearing loss. Treatments and medications can help minimize the effects of the disease.
- Autoimmune inner ear disease (AIED) – As with other autoimmune disorders, in AIED, the immune system cells attack the body they are meant to protect. In the case, the inner ear. This condition can cause hearing loss and dizziness and is managed with treatments such as steroids, medications, gene therapy, and cochlear implants.
- Alport syndrome – This genetic condition can cause kidney disease, hearing loss, and eye problems. While there is no cure, hearing loss is generally treated with hearing aids, and counseling and support are often recommended.
- Cholesteatoma – There are two types of cholesteatoma, one that is present at birth and one that develops in adults. It is a cyst-like growth in the inner ear that can lead to deafness.
- Usher syndrome – This genetic disorder results in hearing loss or deafness and progressive vision loss. As with similar rare disorders, hearing loss is treated with hearing aids or cochlear implants.
- Auditory neuropathy spectrum disorder – This disorder affects the transmission of sounds from the inner ear to the brain resulting in hearing loss and difficulty understanding speech. As it can differ somewhat from person to person, treatment is often tailored to the individual and may include hearing aids and support in communication skills.
- Cogan’s syndrome – Another autoimmune disorder that can affect the eyes and inner ears; this condition can include irritation and pain in the eyes, decreased vision, hearing loss, and vertigo.
While these conditions are rare, it is important to be aware of these unusual causes of hearing loss.
Start protecting your hearing today by scheduling a hearing evaluation, and if you believe you have hearing loss or a condition that may be affecting your hearing, contact our office to schedule an appointment.