Are Hearing Issues Inherited?

Posted by Kayla Phillips on

While there are several causes of hearing loss, genetic factors account for many cases. For babies born with hearing loss, around half of the cases are caused by genetics. For age-related hearing loss, estimates suggest that anywhere from 35-55% of cases may be related to genetic factors. 

Congenital Hearing Loss

Congenital hearing loss, or loss of hearing at birth, can be caused by genetic factors. Genetic mutations can cause two types of congenital hearing loss: 

* Syndromic hearing loss, in which hearing loss occurs alongside other health problems as part of a syndrome. Scientists have identified around 45 different mutations that can lead to over 400 syndromes that may include hearing loss. 

* Non-syndromic hearing loss occurs on its own, without other medical problems. Around 70% of congenital hearing loss is non-syndromic. Most non-syndromic hearing loss is passed along by recessive genes. That is, just as two brown-eyed people can have a blue-eyed baby if they both carry a recessive gene for blue eyes, most babies with hearing problems are born to parents without hearing problems but who carry a recessive gene for hearing loss.  

In addition to genetic factors, congenital hearing loss can be caused by premature birth, viruses, or infections that the mother passes to the baby in the womb, and birth defects that change the shape of the ears, head, or face. 

There are also several infections that can cause hearing loss in infants and young children, including meningitis and measles. To help avoid these illnesses, make sure your baby is vaccinated on the schedule that your doctor recommends. 

Age-Related Hearing Loss

While exposure to loud noises is the biggest cause of age-related hearing loss, genetic factors play a large role in how susceptible someone is to hearing loss. For example, our ears have a natural reflex called the medial olivocochlear (MOC) reflex, which causes the brain to lower the volume on extremely loud sounds. People who have a weak MOC reflex might experience more hearing loss when exposed to extremely loud sounds, such as when on military deployment in a combat zone or working around airplanes. 

The strength of one’s MOC reflex is just one of the dozens of genetic variations that can affect age-related hearing loss. With many of these genetic variations, the gene does not become activated unless something in the environment changes. In other words, if you carry a gene that makes you more likely to lose your hearing when you are around loud noises, you will only experience a problem if you are exposed to loud noises.

If your family members have experienced hearing loss, it’s important to be vigilant about wearing hearing protection when you are around loud sounds. That said, everyone should protect their ears when they are exposed to sounds 85 decibels and up, a level equal to a noisy restaurant.  

Trusted Resources

SonoVive -  The Hearing Loss Solution

Cortexi – Hearing & Tinnitus Relief,

NeuroRise – Improve Hearing stop Tinnitus

VidaCalm - Tinnitus and Ear Health




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You understand that the blog posts and comments to such blog posts (whether posted by us, our agents or bloggers, or by users) do not constitute medical advice or recommendation of any kind, and you should not rely on any information contained in such posts or comments to replace consultations with your qualified health care professionals to meet your individual needs.

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