Noise. Noise-induced hearing loss can affect people of all ages and most often develops gradually over many years. Over time, the noise experienced at work, during recreation (such as riding motorcycles), or even common chores (such as using a power lawn mower) can lead to hearing loss.
Age. In age-related hearing loss (presbycusis), changes in the nerves and cells of the inner ear that occur as you get older cause a gradual but steady hearing loss. The loss may be mild or severe, but it is always permanent.
Other causes of hearing loss include:
Earwax buildup or an object in the ear. Hearing loss because of earwax is common and easily treated.
Ototoxic medicines (such as certain antibiotics) and other substances (such as arsenic, mercury, tin, lead, and manganese) that can damage the ear.
Injury to the ear or head. Head injuries can also damage the structures in the ear and cause a sudden hearing loss.
Ménière's disease. Ménière's disease may result in temporary or permanent hearing loss.
Noncancerous (benign) growths, such as exostoses, osteomas, and glomus tumors. These can cause hearing loss if they block the ear canal. Exostoses are bone growths that often develop when the ear canal is repeatedly exposed to cold water or cold air.
Other medical conditions that do not affect the ear directly may also cause hearing loss.