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4 Potential Culprits Behind Your Hearing Loss

4 Potential Culprits Behind Your Hearing Loss

Sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing — all five of these senses are incredibly important in how you navigate your life. And it’s only when one starts to fade that you realize just how much you relied on that sense, which is definitely true of hearing loss.

About 15% of adults in the United States — 37.5 million people — have some degree of hearing loss, which can significantly impact their lives.

If you suspect that you’re joining this group, you’re in the right place. Dr. Timothy Queen and our Advanced ENT & Allergy team specialize in adult ear, nose, and throat care, which includes audiology.

If you’re wondering why your hearing isn’t as good as it once was, here’s a look at some common drivers of hearing loss.

1. Age matters

Far and away, the most common culprit behind hearing loss in adults is age — 1 in 3 American adults over the age of 65 has hearing loss. Medically known as presbycusis or sensorineural loss, age-related hearing difficulties often occur because of damage in the nerves in your inner ear, as well as in the hair cells inside your cochlea.

This hearing loss generally affects both ears and progresses gradually, slowly robbing you of your ability to hear clearly.

2. Exposure to noise

Another common road to hearing loss is exposure to noise throughout your life. Whether you worked around loud, heavy equipment or you spent years listening to music blasting through your headphones, this type of exposure to noise can damage cells and membranes in your cochlea.

Noise exposure is often gradual, but you can also incur the same damage if you're around a very loud noise, such as in an explosion.

3. Earwax buildup

Hearing loss in adults is often irreversible, but not if it’s due to earwax buildup, which is what we call conductive hearing loss (something interrupting sound). You might be surprised at how often we find that an accumulation of earwax is responsible for hearing loss. The good news is that this is one condition we can clear up quickly and easily. 

4. Diabetes and hearing loss

More than 38 million Americans have diabetes, and one of the many complications of this chronic disease is hearing loss. In fact, people with diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing loss than those who do not have this chronic condition. 

The reason behind the connection is that high levels of glucose in your blood can damage the small blood vessels and nerves in your inner ear.

The above four conditions are some of the more common drivers of hearing loss, but there are more, such as head traumas, infections, hypertension, and tumors (acoustic neuromas).

The best way to figure out why you’re constantly saying, “Huh?” is to come see us for a comprehensive audiology appointment. We have the equipment and expertise to get to the bottom of your hearing loss so we can figure out the best way to restore this important sense.


To schedule your hearing evaluation, simply contact our office in Newport News, Virginia, to set up an appointment.

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