What causes hearing loss?
Some people are born deaf or hard of hearing. For others, hearing loss may develop quickly, or over time. There’s no single cause of hearing loss—but here are a few:
- genetic conditions
- contracting particular types of infections during pregnancy
- craniofacial (the parts of the head that enclose the brain and face) abnormalities
- head trauma or damage to the eardrum
- exposure to loud noises – this can affect hearing gradually, or immediately in the case of an extremely loud burst of sound
- age-related hearing loss.
Are there different types of hearing loss?
Yes, and we’re glad you asked. In fact, hearing loss is described according to which part of the ear is affected. Hearing loss can be:
- conductive hearing loss
- sensorineural hearing loss
- mixed hearing loss
- Auditory Neuropathy Spectrum Disorder
- 1 in 1,000
- It's estimated that 1 in 1,000 babies in Australia is born with significant hearing loss.
- 2 in 1,000
- By school age, that number is 2 in 1,000. By secondary school, 3 in 1,000 children require assistance because of hearing loss.
What are the levels of hearing loss?
Hearing loss may be described as mild, moderate, severe or profound. In Australia, this is determined by the level of hearing loss:
- mild hearing loss (21dB to 40dB)
- moderate hearing loss (41dB to 70dB)
- severe hearing loss (71dB to 90dB)
- profound hearing loss (91dB or greater).
What’s the difference between deaf and hard of hearing?
Deafness is defined as having profound hearing loss, which implies very little or no hearing in one or both ears. You may have heard the term 'Deaf' in the context of a person, or a group of people with profound hearing loss. 'Deaf' is a cultural identity that describes a community of people who are deaf, their shared experiences and language.
Other people with hearing loss, who don’t identify as being deaf, may be described as being hard of hearing. This may be the case when their hearing loss increases over time, or their level of hearing loss is mild or moderate.
A person may identify as deaf or hard of hearing—it’s their choice.