We often associate hearing loss with aging, but not everyone who’s over a certain age has poor hearing. Plus, hearing loss can affect young adults and even children. Why is it some people develop hearing loss and others don’t?

Hearing loss and your environment

Your environment is one factor that can affect your risk for hearing loss, especially exposure to loud noise. People who live and work around noise are more likely to damage their inner ear which eventually leads to hearing loss. Your inner ear can become damaged slowly over time due to repeated noise exposure or suddenly if you’re exposed to an extremely loud noise.

Other environmental factors that increase the risk for hearing loss include: smoking, taking certain medications, aging, head injury and certain illnesses, including diabetes.

Hearing loss and your genetics

The other factor is genetics, the genes and traits handed down to you from your parents. Researchers have identified a gene called NOX3. Research in mice shows variations in this gene are linked with a greater risk for hearing loss. More research is needed to determine the role this gene plays in human hearing loss. Regardless, genetics is a known risk factor for hearing loss, making it important to know your family history.

Protecting your hearing

Unfortunately, you don’t have control over your genes. Still, no matter what your genes are, they’re influenced by your environment. If you have a family history of hearing loss, take extra steps to protect your ears from loud noises by wearing hearing protection and avoiding occupations and entertainment which expose your ears to excessive noise, including: rock concerts, sporting events, riding motorcycles, shooting firearms and working around aircraft. Don’t forget to turn the volume down when you listen to music!

Also, if you’re at high risk based on genetics, get your hearing checked regularly by a hearing care professional so you can catch hearing loss at the earliest stage possible. Take your hearing seriously so you can continue to enjoy the amazing multitude of sounds around you.


Science Daily. “Genetic predisposition found for noise-induced hearing loss” April 16 2015.