Is Hearing Loss Genetic?

Posted on June 26, 2017. Filed under: health, hearing education, hearing loss |

Do you ever catch yourself asking people to repeat themselves? Do you find yourself having difficulties while hearing what people have to say? Well, it may be possible that you are suffering from some type of hearing loss.

While you ask yourself “how can that be?” it is important to note that according to the Hearing Loss Association of America, about 20 percent of Americans report some sort of hearing impairment. That’s 48 million people in the U.S. alone, many of who may have been born with a genetic defect.
Genetic hearing loss can occur either in one or both ears, and is often a common reason as to why many people suffer from hearing impairments. It can either be present from birth or the symptoms can start appearing later in life.

Genetic hearing loss can be divided as follows:

1. Progressive hearing loss: in this case, the person experiences some minor difficulties when it first appears. But these little issues get worse with the years. At first, you may just think that turning the volume up, or asking people to repeat themselves, is enough; but the issue gets bigger and bigger as the years pass by. One day, turning the music up won’t do it.

2. Non-progressive hearing loss: in this case, the intensity of deafness remains the same regardless of time. A person who experiences this kind of hearing impairment can have some degree of certainty about their condition, since their deafness should remain at the same level as to when it was first detected.

3. Syndromic hearing loss: in this case, deafness is the result of another clinical problem, i.e., it’s a side effect of another condition. This form of hearing loss accounts for as much as 30% of the cases, with over 400 syndromes that are known to cause some degree of impairment. Some of them are: Usher syndrome, Stickler syndrome, Waardenburg syndrome and Alport’s syndrome.

4. Non-syndromic hearing loss: in this case, deafness is not caused by another condition, i.e., the genetic defect only affects hearing. This form of deafness accounts for the remaining 70% of the cases, with recessive genes being responsible most of the time.
If you remember school well, you know that genes carry the information that makes us who we are. They play a key role in defining our physical traits and our health. So, if we get defective genes from our parents, a health problem, such as deafness, can be the result.

That’s why we would like to give you a brief explanation of the four types of non-syndromic hearing loss:
a) Autosomal Dominant: in this case, one of the parents suffers from hearing loss. And the gene that causes the impairment is passed on to the offspring. There is a 50% chance that the offspring will suffer from some form of deafness.

b) Autosomal Recessive: in this case, both parents enjoy normal hearing levels, but they carry a recessive deafness gene. There is a 25% chance that the child will suffer from some form of hearing loss.

c) X-linked: in this case, it is the mother who carries the recessive gene in one of her X chromosomes. This particular type is more likely to affect men rather than women. If a woman inherits a defective X chromosome, the other one will usually compensate for the defect.

d) Mitochondrial: in this case, it is the mother again who passes the gene on to the child. The father cannot pass the gene on because sperm does not have mitochondria in it. Therefore, this type of hearing loss can only be inherited from the mitochondria that is present in the mother’s eggs.
If you would like more information on genetic hearing loss or you feel like you may be suffering from hearing loss, contact Dr. Joseph K. Durán at New Generation Hearing Centers today.


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