Genetic Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is the 3rd most chronic physical condition in the United States. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), 15% of American adults (37.5 million) aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing. Although there are a number of causes of hearing loss, including aging and exposure to loud noise to name a few, in some cases hearing loss may be hereditary, that is, passed down through our genes. Over 35% of age-related hearing impairments can be attributed to genetic hearing loss. In newborns, over 50% of hearing loss can be attributed to hereditary conditions.
What is Genetic Hearing Loss?
You are who you are today because of your genetic makeup. Genes determine the color of your eyes, the color of your hair, even down to such specific details as to whether or not you like the taste of cilantro!
When it comes to genetic, or congenital conditions and your hearing, it can have a few different implications.
Congenital hearing loss refers to a person who was born with an impairment due to a condition (genetic or non-genetic) before birth. Usher’s Syndrome or Pendred Syndrome are just two genetic conditions that can have an impact on someone’s hearing.
There are also non-genetic congenital conditions that can impact your hearing. These include cytomegalovirus (CMV) infection, or illnesses such as Herpes, Rubella, or toxoplasmosis. The pregnant mother is infected with these illnesses, which then has a direct impact on the fetus. The may also impact the newborn’s hearing, alongside other potential health complications.
Advances in the fields of science and technology have outlined the possibility of identifying DNA genetic markers that are attributed to hearing loss. As technology continues to advance, the ability to create and treat hearing impairments is growing. Stem cell therapy is one potential opportunity. Others could include DNA mapping or genetic mutations that play a role in a person’s hearing, whether that’s the formation of the ear itself or other potential impacts on hearing.
How Can You Treat Genetic Hearing Loss?
When it comes to treating genetic impairments, including treating genetic hearing loss, the treatment plans may differ to those for a hearing loss caused by, say, noise. It’s important to first understand whether or not your hearing loss is genetic. If you’d like to discuss further, come in and meet the hearing care professionals at Family Audiology.