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We often ask ourselves the question “Can hearing loss be inherited?”. There are different ways in which hearing loss can occur. It is one of the most common medical conditions present today.

Some form of hearing loss occurs due to an illness, injury, or accident while some people lose their hearing over time. What one should note however is that genetic hearing loss is a common way for people to suffer from hearing loss and diminished hearing capabilities.

“There is a recessive gene or a dominant gene that impacts various generations of families and causes hearing loss that can happen at birth or can become apparent later in life”.

Congenital hearing loss is not something that can be fixed. Treatment with the use of hearing aids is available, but until technology figures out the situation more. People are simply left to be without the ability to hear unless they have hearing aids.

Types of Congenital Hearing Loss

There are:

  1. Progressive congenital hearing loss – the loss of hearing becomes worse or more significant over time.
  2. Non-progressive congenital hearing loss – a person suffering from it can have a form of stability in hearing over time.

Apart from illness, injury, accident, and developing hearing loss over time, there are some other factors that affect hearing loss.

  • How hearing loss was inherited
  • Vestibular characteristics
  • Other physical or medical characteristics

In hearing loss as a hereditary condition type, research has shown that around 60% to 70% comes with no other hereditary condition. This is referred to as a non-syndromic situation.

What this implies is that the remaining cases, 30% to 40% of hereditary hearing loss come along with other organs being affected. This situation is called syndromic where the mutation of genes has a wider impact than just hearing loss.

Types of Genetic Hearing Loss

1. Autosomal Dominant Hearing Loss

This form of hearing loss is characterized by individual parents being responsible for carrying the dominant gene with respect to hearing loss.

The parent likely suffers from hearing loss and in turn passes it on to their child.

“In cases like this, there is more than a 50% likelihood that the child will suffer from a form of hearing loss”.

In a situation where both of the parents have this gene and suffer from hearing loss, then the likelihood of the child suffering from this condition rises even higher.

2. Autosomal Recessive Hearing Loss

This form of hearing loss involves both of the parents usually having a normal level of hearing, but they are carrying a gene that is considered to be recessive.

“In a case like this, there is a 25% likelihood of a child suffering from hearing loss”.

If there is no sign that either parent suffers from hearing loss, and record shows that there is no form of hearing loss in the family, there will be no prior expectation of hearing loss for the child.

3. X-Linked Hearing Loss

This form of hearing loss is characterized by the mother holding the recessive trait that is responsible for the loss of hearing. The recessive trait can be found in the sex chromosome.

“It is not impossible to pass on this trait to boys and girls, but it is more likely that boys will be affected”.

Genetic Syndromes

Genetic Syndromes where the loss of hearing is recognized as one of the characteristics are:

Treatments for genetic hearing loss

From our question from the first paragraph “Can hearing loss be inherited?”, the obvious answer is that it’s pertinent that any child that is born with a genetic hearing disorder or suffers from genetic hearing loss should receive support and assistance as soon as possible.

It is recommended that children begin to receive treatment before they are six months old as this will assist the child in developing communication skills that are comparable with their peers.

Numerous treatments are available and a parent will need to focus on what is right for their child and for the family as a whole. There is the issue of budgetary constraints that may have an impact on some treatments but by speaking to medical practitioners and support groups, parents will be able to find the widest range of options available.