Can Hearing Loss Ever Be Hereditary?

Atlanta Hearing Associates' Blog.

Can hearing loss be written into your family genes? Yes. Hearing loss can be genetic. Genetic irregularities actually lay at the root of most types of hearing loss. On top of that, hearing loss is regarded as the most common birth defect in the developed world.
A primer on genetics. The way your body looks and functions is controlled by the genetic code of your DNA – your genes. More than 100 distinct genes have been discovered that are associated with hearing loss. Hearing loss can result from any one of these genes being missing or modified. These abnormal gene sequences are passed down through families from parent to child.

Genetic hearing loss variations. Genetic hearing losses can stem from flaws in the inner ear, outer ear or both areas. Depending on the particular cause, the resulting hearing loss is classified as sensorineural, conductive or mixed (which is a mixture of the two). Besides that, some genes result in hearing loss before a child learns to speak (prelingual hearing loss), and other genes cause hearing problems that show up after speech is learned (postlingual hearing loss). Usher syndrome affects more than half of the deaf-blind population, making it one of the most common causes of hearing loss. Waardenburg syndrome is another prevalent disorder that affects hearing in the inner ear but also causes streaks of white hair, pale skin, and light-colored or multi-colored eyes.

The good news about genetic hearing losses. Just because a parent has hearing loss, doesn’t inevitably mean the child will have hearing loss too. The genes that cause hearing loss are usually recessive and therefore frequently don’t result in any outward symptoms because the child has inherited a normal copy from the other parent. It’s not uncommon for the children of hearing impaired parents to have normal hearing. Because there are hundreds of genes associated with hearing, it is more likely than not that the parental hearing losses don’t share exactly the same cause. Individuals concerned with genetic hearing loss can see a doctor for genetic testing that can help determine potential risks.

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.