Is Hearing Loss Hereditary?

November 7, 2019 9:44 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

Hearing loss in California can be the result of many different factors, ranging from external environmental influences to negative reactions to medications. But in at least half of the cases of those diagnosed with hearing loss, the cause can be linked directly to genetic origins. Follow along to learn more about the connections between genes and hearing, and just how these hereditary traits can lead to hearing troubles.

Genes and the ear

Each individual gene contains information that serves as the instruction for how your body develops and functions. Any change in a gene that causes it to form differently than it normally would is called a mutation, and if these genetic changes are hereditary, they are referred to as familial mutations. These mutations can further be classified as dominant or recessive, depending on how prominent they may have been in your family’s history. In most cases, those with genes that have mutations will not have any other symptoms beyond the hearing loss, which is commonly referred to as being non-syndromic. In about 30 percent of those experiencing hearing loss, though, the mutations will produce other symptoms.

Hereditary hearing loss

The cochlea is the part of your ear that changes the sounds you hear into nerve signals that the brain can interpret, and as a result receives many different types of instructions in order to function properly. If there are any mutations in the genes that are responsible for this ear-to-brain communication, hearing loss can result.

For example, the GJB2 gene contains the genetic material responsible for producing certain proteins that are vital for the proper function of the cochlea. If there is a familial mutation with this particular gene, newborns can be born with hearing loss. Children receive two copies of the GJB2 gene, one from each parent. If a child receives one normal copy and one copy with a mutation, the child will likely have normal hearing function, as most of these mutations are recessive. However, if both parents pass on a copy of the gene with a mutation, the child will experience hearing loss. If this happens when the parents have normal hearing function themselves, it is likely that they each have one mutated copy and one normal copy, and they have both passed along the copy of the gene with the mutation to their child.

Because hearing loss can be caused by many different factors, it is best to visit an audiologist for a hearing test to determine what the exact cause of your hearing loss in California may be. Whether you are scheduling an exam for yourself or for your children, the comprehensive hearing tests at Valley Hearing Center – Salinas are designed to get to the bottom of your hearing loss by weighing all of these factors, thereby enabling us to put together the best corrective plan for you to be able to hear comfortably and confidently. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment to learn more about your hearing loss. We look forward to helping you improve your future!

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