One in five. According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, 20 percent of Americans – roughly 48 million – report some degree of hearing loss. Hearing loss is actually the third most common health problem in the United States.

What causes hearing loss?

Because hearing loss is so common, it makes sense that there are many conditions that cause it. For example, age, illnesses, overall wellbeing and genetics all play a role in hearing loss. Furthermore, lifestyle choices, such as career choice, medications and favored extracurricular activities like concerts, can put people at risk for developing hearing loss.

Age-related hearing loss

It’s a common misconception that hearing loss only affects the elderly. Hearing loss can afflict anyone of any age. That said, the Hearing Loss Association of America reports that one in three people age 65 have hearing loss. The ratio increases to one in two for people aged 75 and older. Although it is common, scientists and researchers don’t quite understand why hearing declines with age. Possible reasons include an elongated exposure to noise and other damaging factors, genes and medications.

Medications and hearing loss

Speaking of medications, many prescription and some over-the-counter drugs can cause hearing loss. These types of drugs are called ototoxic because they impair hearing or balance. Approximately 200 FDA-approved drugs and chemicals are known to trigger such issues. Examples of these medications include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Chemotherapy drugs
  • Aspirin
  • Loop diuretics
  • Malaria medications

If you are taking a drug that causes hearing loss, tinnitus or other issues, contact your primary care physician or prescribing physician about possible solutions.

Illnesses and hearing loss

Like some medications, some illnesses and health conditions can cause hearing loss. These include:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Osteosclerosis
  • Trauma
  • Infection

If you believe you have hearing loss, make appointments with a hearing care provider. A hearing specialist will be able to not only evaluate your hearing ability and diagnose any problems, but recommend the proper course of treatment, as well.