When it comes to your health, there is rarely a simple answer to questions about why you may have one condition or another. There are usually lots of different factors that all play their part and that goes for your hearing too. Hearing loss has a very long list of causes. In this blog, we’ve broken that list down into the most common causes for the two main types of hearing loss in older adults.

Sensorineural hearing loss: causes and treatments

Sensorineural hearing loss happens when sounds are prevented from reaching the brain due to problems with the auditory nerve or the inner ear. Its causes fall into three main categories:

Lifestyle factors

Smoking and obesity both increase the chances of sensorineural hearing loss. An unhealthy lifestyle can also lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke, which can damage the inner ear and auditory nerve, resulting in hearing loss.

Another major cause of sensorineural hearing loss is exposure to loud noises. For example: the screams of the crowd at a football game or the sound of gunfire when hunting.

Unexpected injury and illness

Head trauma or injury is a common cause of inner ear damage and subsequent hearing loss. A range of infections can also result in sensorineural hearing loss, including meningitis, measles, mumps, and shingles.

Unavoidable causes

While many of the causes of sensorineural hearing loss can be minimized or avoided altogether, there are a few that can’t. They include genetics, aging, and Ménière’s disease. Certain medications are also known to damage cells in the inner ear; a physician can closely monitor you if you need to take these kinds of medication.

Given the many different causes of sensorineural hearing loss, the treatments are also varied. Surgery and medications, such as corticosteroids and antibiotics, are all possibilities. However, if the damage to your hearing cannot be treated, sensorineural hearing loss can be well-managed using hearing aids.

Conductive hearing loss: causes and treatment

Conductive hearing loss happens when sounds are prevented from reaching the brain due to problems with the middle or outer ear. Its causes also fall into three main categories:


Anything that blocks the ear canal, such as earwax, foreign objects, or abnormal growths, can cause conductive hearing loss.


There are several different infections that result in conductive hearing loss, two of the most common being swimmer’s ear, an infection of the ear canal, and glue ear, an infection of the middle ear, which causes it to fill up with fluid.


Ear infections can sometimes result in perforated eardrums, which causes temporary hearing loss. Damage in the form of dislocation of any the three small bones in the middle ear also results in conductive hearing loss.

Conductive hearing loss is usually treatable, often with hearing fully restored to normal levels. As with sensorineural hearing loss, treatments vary depending on the cause. Earwax can be removed, infections left to resolve on their own or with the help of antibiotics, and abnormal growths removed via surgery.

Do you have a hearing loss?

If you are worried that you might have a hearing loss, then it’s time to call our Audiologist, Dr. Joni Ruiz, for your hearing test at Big Thicket Hearing Aids and Audiology. Dr. Ruiz provides a professional, caring approach to your hearing care and after a comprehensive hearing test, she can get you the treatment you need. Book your appointment today by calling us at (409) 751-2590.