We all know that numerous health conditions run in families. This can include hearing loss. While not all hearing loss is genetic, let’s examine the role genes play in our hearing health.
Genetics and Newborn Hearing Loss
The vast majority of newborns are screened for hearing loss shortly after birth. Genetic factors often are involved in cases of newborn hearing loss. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “50% to 60% of hearing loss in babies is due to genetic causes.”
If a child is born with hearing loss or genes that will cause them to develop hearing loss later in life, it’s known as congenital hearing loss. Congenital hearing loss can be dominant or recessive. If it’s dominant, that means that if one parent has the mutation, a child will also have it. In cases where it is recessive, both parents must have the mutation causing hearing loss for the child to also have it.
Many times, the gene mutation that caused hearing loss will be non-syndromic, meaning that the person will not have any other symptoms. Other times, congenital hearing loss is due to genetic syndromes and comes with other symptoms as well, such as Pendred syndrome.
Genetic Mutations May Make You More Susceptible to Age-Related Hearing Loss
Age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, is a leading cause of hearing loss in adults. Several gene mutations may make it more likely that you develop hearing loss as you age compared to others who don’t have the same mutations. This is part of the reason why you see hearing loss run in families, though other non-genetic factors may also be at play there.
When To Seek Treatment
If you have genetic risk factors that put you at a higher risk of hearing loss, it’s important to talk to your medical provider about regular hearing tests to make sure any changes can be caught early.
Regardless of your genetic risk, anyone can develop hearing loss. So if you find yourself struggling to follow conversations with your friends or struggle to hear your instructor when taking a stretch and balance class at the Fern Bell Recreation Center, schedule an appointment for an audiological exam.
If any hearing loss is discovered, your hearing specialists will work with you to find hearing aids that meet your individual needs and help you stay connected to the world around you.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call North Alabama ENT Associates today.