Home>Knowledge>Hearing loss>Causes, risks, prevention

There are many different causes of hearing loss. It can be hereditary or just be a part of the aging process. It can be triggered by a blast of loud noise, infections, the effects of toxins or by injury. The good news: there are solutions to successfully correct most types of hearing loss. Learn about the most common risks and what you can do to prevent hearing loss.

Learn about causes and types of hearing loss

Causes of hearing loss

The most common hazards for your hearing – and how to avoid them

Excessive noise at work

Noise levels should not exceed 85 dB. If it is higher, try to reduce the noise, or wear ear protection. Even noise-reduction measures such as fitting carpeting or wallcoverings can reduce noise pollution inside rooms.

Volume controls on home electronics

Keep the volume of your TV, radio, or stereo as low as you can. Special care is needed where headphones are worn, as in the case of mobile MP3 players (» read more about Mp3 Players and hearing damage). Sound systems in automobiles are also often played too loud because they’re competing with engine and traffic noise, which can dangerously increase the volume of noise to which you’re exposing your ears.

Concerts and discos

In some countries, it is mandatory that ear plugs be issued at concerts or in clubs. While it might make more sense to turn the volume down to a sensible level, that’s not always possible in these venues. Therefore, always make use of the ear plugs supplied, or bring some ear protection of your own. Do not stay in a very loud environment for too long, and never stand directly next to a loudspeaker. Give your ears a break now and then.

Restaurants and cafés

The noise levels in restaurants and cafés can often approach hazardous levels. Babies and children, in particular, can be exposed to damaging noise without the parents being aware. Stay away from any restaurants and cafés that are too noisy, or note the positions of the loudspeakers and make sure that your children are kept at a safe distance from them.

Loud tools and machinery

Wear ear protection if you have to use loud tools and machinery. This applies also to using a lawnmower or power drill.

Lack of knowledge

Educate your children at a young age about their hearing and its delicacy. Be aware that toy guns and some electronic games can also be hazardous for hearing.

Foreign bodies in the ear

Never use cotton buds – the damage they cause far outweighs the benefits. Cotton buds often do not remove ear wax but instead push it deep into the ear canal right in front of the ear drum. This increases the risk of an ear infection, especially for children. Another side-effect of cotton buds can be an increase in the production of ear wax. The same applies to handkerchiefs, corners of towels, fingers, etc. Instead, clean your ears carefully with water when taking a shower, etc.

Disease and infection

Ear infections are usually bacterial in origin, and occur mostly in children. Great care should be taken in these cases, and there should be no delay in seeking treatment. Even washing with impure water can trigger an ear infection, and this can lead to a loss of hearing.Some childhood illnesses such as measles, whooping cough and mumps can cause deafness. Parents should get information on vaccinations in good time.

» More about middle ear disease
» This is what hearing loss sounds like
» Test your hearing