Home page

How Does One Become Deaf: Causes and Types of Deafness

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2005, nearly 278 million people suffered from mild to severe hearing impairment across the world. The Deafness Research Foundation states that nearly 17% or 36 million of American adults report some amount of hearing loss. Also, nearly 2 to 3 of every 1000 kids in the U.S are born deaf or hearing impaired. The WHO however, stresses that nearly half of all deafness-related cases can be avoided through prevention, early detection and proper management.

What are Different Types of Deafness

Deafness can be classified into three main types: Conductive, Neural and Mixed Hearing Loss. It is important to understand the type of deafness in order to plan the method of education and treatment. Conductive hearing loss refers to the disruption in the “conduction” or transmission of sound from the outer ear to the inner ear. Sensorineural or neural deafness is deafness caused by damage to the nerves in the inner ear. This type of hearing loss may be either acquired or congenital. Mixed hearing loss is essentially a mixture of conductive and neural deafness.


What Causes Deafness

Deafness, in both children and adults, can happen for many reasons. Hearing loss can be triggered by a variety of factors ranging from accidents that affect the eardrum and age-related causes to genetic factors and ear infections. In adults, the most common causes include age, noise, ear infections, wax buildup and ruptured or punctured ea drum and heredity. The Deafness Research Foundation informs us that 18 percent of Americans aged 45-64 have a hearing impairment as do 47 percent of adults 75 years or older. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders, nearly 26 million Americans aged 20-69 have high frequency hearing loss because of exposure to loud sounds or noise at work or during recreational activities.

In children, the top causes of hearing loss and deafness include premature birth, pregnancy-related complications and diseases such as cytomegalovirus, rubella, prenatal infections and lack of oxygen. Otitis Media, Meningitis, Down Syndrome are some of the other infections associated with hearing loss in babies and children. In fact, according to the Deafness Research Foundation, three out of four children experience otitis media by the time they turn three years. Here are some resources to help you understand more about the various causes of deafness.

More Resources

  • American School for the Deaf: Learn about the services provided by the ASD and how it can help the deaf and hard of hearing infants, youth and adults.
  • Clerc National Deaf Education Center: A resource center that provides information, training and help to parents and professionals to meet the needs of deaf and hard of hearing children.
  • Schools for the Deaf: A comprehensive list of hundreds of links to schools and institutes for the deaf all across the world.
  • National Association of the Deaf: A national organization dedicated to working for the rights of the deaf and hard of hearing.
  • Children of Deaf Adults: An organization offering support to children of deaf parents. Offers information packets and contact lists as well as other resources. 
  • Community for Parents of Deaf Children: The Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf has a support group for parents of deaf and hard of hearing kids.
  • Association for Late-Deafened Adults: An association that offers special support to late deafened adults along with others who suffer from deafness.
  • Parent Support Program: A support group for parents of deaf kids. Offers parent meetups, publications, chat groups and more. Also, has a helpful kid’s page and volunteer opportunities.
  • Australian Parent Support Groups: Information on support groups for parents of deaf children in Australia.
  • Online Magazine for the Deaf: An online magazine published by a not-for-profit volunteer organization for deaf kids and adults.
  • Newspaper for the Deaf: Learn about a newspaper for the deaf and hard-of-hearing community.
  • News for the Deaf: A comprehensive list of hundreds of links to different types of dog breeds--including FAQ's and support pages.
  •  British Deaf Association: An organization dedicated to providing support and information to the deaf and hard-of-hearing community in Britain.
  • Deaf Culture: Learn about the cultural aspects of the deaf community and how it compares to other ethnic communities.
  • Deaf Addiction Services: Information on substance abuse treatment options available for the deaf at Maryland.
  •  Research on Deafness: Learn about various researches being conducted in the field of deafness and communication disorders.

Deafness, its causes and symptoms need early diagnosis and management so that the right method of treatment can be provided. Doing so increases an individual’s opportunity to lead an empowered and independent life and learn how to express and communicate with friends, family and community members.