Hearing loss is a debilitating condition that can have a number of different causes. Though the most common causes of hearing loss is exposure to loud and repetitive noises and aging, a number of medical conditions can also cause a person to lose some or all of his or her hearing. As hearing loss may only be one of the problems that a medical condition can cause, being familiar with some of the medical conditions that can cause hearing loss can help a person to uncover an overlooked medical condition before it becomes worse.
Meniere’s disease is a medical condition that causes both a loss of hearing and a loss of balance. The disease may begin by affecting only one ear, but generally both ears will be affected over time. In addition to hearing problems, some people with Meniere’s disease experience a complete, momentary loss of balance that can cause them to fall and suffer other injuries. Though doctors have not discovered the exact cause of Meniere’s disease, or a cure, but studies show that there are some medications and lifestyle changes that can reduce the impact of the disease.
The development of both malignant and non-malignant tumors can cause hearing loss in one or both ears. Tumors in the brain can impact the brain’s ability to perceive sounds, while tumors near the ear canal can block the canal or place pressure on the inner ear resulting in partial or complete hearing loss. In addition to hearing loss, tumors may impact other senses, cause a sensation of pressure in the head and cause weakness or numbness of facial muscles. As tumors can be cancerous and cause other serious health problems, checking for tumors is one of the first steps that medical professionals may take when a patient complains of hearing loss.
A variety of germs can cause an infection in the ear. While ear wax and small hairs in the ear canal work to keep particles away from the middle and inner ear, some germs may come into contact with the delicate ear structures and cause an infection. In other cases, an infection from another part of the body may be carried through a person’s blood to the ear. Many ear infections result in significant pain and pressure in one or both ears, but some infections may not produce any discomfort. Swelling caused by an infection may cause hearing loss, but normal hearing will resume when the person recovers from the ear infection in most cases.
The tiny bones in the middle ear vibrate when struck by sound and transmit the sound to the inner ear. Damage to these delicate bones from disease or injury can cause a malformation or misalignment of the bones. Problems with shape or location of the bones may result in a reduced ability to transmit sound resulting in total or partial hearing loss. Persons with otosclerosis typically experience a gradual loss of hearing that may go unnoticed without a hearing test. In addition to hearing loss, a person with otosclerosis may experience a loss of balance and tinnitus, a ringing in the ears.