How Can Genetics Impact Hearing Loss?

Hearing loss can result from environmental factors, genetic factors, or both. Research suggests that age-related hearing loss is genetic for 35-55% of people. Below is an explanation of two types of genetic hearing loss.

Syndromic and Non-Syndromic Hearing Loss

A woman and two children playing with wooden blocks

Genes are components of the DNA that make people biologically unique. Various genes influence a person’s ability to hear. If not formed in the required manner, certain genetic mutations can lead to hearing impairment.

Syndromic hearing loss refers to a hearing impairment that is present at birth and can be accompanied by other medical issues. Approximately 30% of the gene mutations that cause hearing loss also lead to other health complications. A child can suffer from syndromic hearing loss if they inherit a gene that causes hearing loss. Non-syndromic hearing loss is also present at birth but has no accompanying symptoms because it results from damage to the structures in the inner ear.

How Is Hearing Loss Inherited?

Human beings inherit two copies of genes known as alleles from each biological parent. Dominant alleles are expressed regardless of the traits in the other allele. In contrast, recessive alleles are only expressed in the absence of a dominant gene. For a recessive gene to cause hearing loss, it has to come from both parents. On the other hand, a dominant gene that causes hearing loss will transfer this condition to a child even when only one parent is a carrier.

An individual who inherits a recessive mutated gene can pass it on to their offspring. If the other parent is also a carrier, the child may suffer from hearing loss. Research indicates that being a carrier of a mutated gene is a factor that can predispose adults to hearing loss later in life. Adult carriers may experience progressive hearing loss if they are exposed to certain medications, ear infections, loud noises, injuries, or other factors that cause damage to the auditory system.

Early diagnosis of hearing loss can enable you to acquire treatment or obtain a hearing aid to improve your ability to communicate. At Associated Hearing Professionals, we build relationships with patients and families with genetic hearing loss and treat them through the years. Our audiologists offer comprehensive hearing tests, customized hearing aids, and other communication devices to patients in the St. Louis area. We provide personalized care to help improve your quality of life. To schedule an appointment at one of our two locations, contact us today.