Risk Factors of Hearing Loss

Poor hearing is annoying. It makes it hard for people to hear sounds, which frustrates them and those around them. But this pervasive and often underestimated health condition affects millions of individuals globally. 

Presently, approximately over 1.5 billion people are living with hearing loss. That’s nearly 20 percent of the population worldwide. Among them, 430 billion people are deaf. 

What’s more shocking is that there could be more than 700 million people with disabling hearing loss by 2050.  

Several new studies have demonstrated a link between untreated hearing loss and an increased risk of depression, dementia, and cardiovascular diseases. From environmental exposures to genetic predisposition, numerous factors can contribute to hearing loss. In this article, we’ll discuss a few important factors that are linked with hearing impairment. 


Did you know people increase their risk of hearing loss as they age? Hearing loss that occurs little by little as you age is known as presbycusis. NIH reveals that about half of the individuals over the age of 75 experience difficulty hearing. But people above 75 aren’t the only ones at risk of hearing loss. NIH further states that nearly 3.75 million American adults ages 18 and above report trouble hearing. That accounts for 15 percent of the population. 

Presbycusis results in a symmetrical, bilateral, and gradual decline in hearing sensitivity. As we age, the delicate internal structure of the ears breaks down. The minuscule hair cells within the ears also get damaged, which is why the ears stop responding to sound waves. 

Age-related hearing loss usually occurs around the age of 50. The effects of presbycusis become more pronounced or worsen as individuals reach their 60s. 

Ototoxic Drugs

Many times, medications increase a person’s risk of hearing loss by damaging the auditory nerve or the sensory cells of the inner ear. This leads to tinnitus or hearing loss. Sometimes, the effect of such drugs on a person’s hearing health is temporary. But most of the time, prescription drugs cause permanent hearing loss. Such drugs are regarded as ototoxic because they damage hearing and balance. 

Ototoxic medicines believed to cause tinnitus in clinical use are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), chemotherapeutic agents such as cisplatin, salicylates, macrolide antibiotics, and aminoglycoside antibiotics. 

Herein, Tepezza deserves mention, as it has been linked to tinnitus, permanent hearing loss, and total deafness. Individuals who have used this drug for thyroid eye disease treatment have filed lawsuits against the drug’s manufacturer, Horizon Therapeutics. Plaintiffs in the Tepezza lawsuit allege that the manufacturer failed to warn about health risks associated with the drug. 

According to TruLaw, the Tepezza lawsuit is a product liability case because Horizon doesn’t disclose the risk of hearing impairment on its products’ warning labels. 

Exposure to Loud Noises

If you’re often exposed to loud noises, you are at an increased risk of hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss permanently damages the hearing nerve and the tiny hair cells in your ears. This is called nerve deafness or sensorineural hearing loss. 

Despite prolonged exposure, noise at or within 70 A-weighted dBA (decibels) is unlikely to cause hearing loss. However, repeated or long exposure to noises at or over 85 dBA is likely to increase your risk of hearing loss. In general, noise-induced hearing loss occurs faster when the noises are louder. 

The most common sources of loud sounds include personal music players, concerts, and industrial machinery. 


Researchers have found that genetics make people susceptible to hearing impairment or loss, especially as they age. Some hereditary conditions and genetic mutations put humans at an increased risk of hearing loss. For example, if otosclerosis, Waardenburg syndrome, and Usher syndrome run in the family, you’re likely to experience difficulty in hearing. Why? That’s because these conditions have been associated with hearing loss. 

A thorough understanding of your family’s medical history can help you identify potential risks of hearing loss. As such, you can take preventative measures in advance and delay the onset of hearing issues. 

Ear Infections

While hearing loss due to ear infection is temporary, it can result in permanent hearing loss. When ear infections aren’t treated on time, they cause severe damage to the internal structure. 

Infections, in particular, in the middle of the ear, result in fluid or pus buildup. This buildup exerts pressure on the middle ears’ tiny bones and eardrums, which may cause permanent hearing loss. 

A Final Word 

To sum it up, there isn’t one factor that increases a person’s risk of hearing loss. A combination of lifestyle, environmental, and, of course, genetic factors contribute to hearing impairment. 

In regard to genetics, you cannot do much to safeguard your hearing health. But as far as environmental and lifestyle factors are concerned, there’s a lot you can do to minimize your risk of tinnitus or hearing loss. Adopting a healthy lifestyle, putting on hearing protection in noisy environments, and regular ear checkups are a few things that will reduce your risk of hearing loss. 

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