The cause of hearing loss is either congenital or acquired. A congenital hearing loss occurs when an individual is born with a hearing impairment. It could be caused by a hereditary trait, neonatal developmental condition, or birthing problem. There are many conditions and syndromes that include hearing loss. Newborn hearing screening, nearly universally performed today, will reveal a baby’s hearing problem. State agencies are then contacted to perform follow-up and intervention services to ensure educational opportunities.
An acquired hearing loss is one that occurs in the presence of normal hearing at birth. It may be syndrome-related or a hereditary condition resulting in a progressive hearing loss in childhood or older. Most often hearing loss occurs at levels disrupting the understanding of normal conversational speech beginning at the age of 40 years. Hearing loss progresses differently for each of us. When difficulty hearing and understanding conversational speech becomes noticeable, sometimes to those around us first, it is time to address it. Research has shown that poorer outcomes in performance with hearing aids are associated with longer delays in seeking help. More and more research is focussing on the relationship between hearing loss and cognitive decline.