Causes of Temporary Hearing Loss

Hearing Loss

In most cases, hearing loss results from damage to the tiny hair cells in the inner ear that carry sound information to the brain. This is often due to excessive noise exposure, although trauma to the head, structural problems, infections and some medications can cause permanent hearing loss. Less commonly, hearing loss is temporary and returns to normal once the underlying cause is treated. What are some common causes of temporary or reversible hearing loss?

One more common cause of decreased hearing is blockage of an ear canal by earwax. Wax serves a useful function – it traps bacteria, dirt and debris so they don’t penetrate more deeply into your ear, but sticky wax, also known as cerumen, can sometimes build up to the point that it becomes impacted and causes hearing problems. Fortunately, this type of hearing impairment is reversible once you remove the wax. It’s safest to let a professional do this. Whatever you do, don’t stick object such as bobby pins or cotton swabs into your ears to remove wax or clean out your ears.

Sometimes an ear infection involving the eardrum brings about hearing problems due to fluid build-up in the middle ear. Occasionally, allergies can cause decreased hearing due to dysfunction of the Eustachian tubes that connect the ear and throat. Less commonly, a foreign body or tumor in the ear canal blocks the transmission of sound waves and contributes to hearing loss.

Causes of Temporary Hearing Loss Not Directly Related to the Ear

People who have certain medical conditions not related to the ear can experience temporary hearing loss. This includes some autoimmune diseases and viruses. Medications, such as aspirin, certain antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications and diuretics have been linked with temporary hearing impairment.

As you can see, diminished hearing has a variety of causes, some of which are reversible. That’s why it’s essential that you seek medical attention if you’re not hearing as well as you once did. Take a cue from others, too. If they have to keep repeating things to you because you can’t make out what they’re saying, there may be a problem. Get it checked out.


Aftab, A., & Quraishi, S. (2005). Aetiological causes of reversible sensorineural hearing loss. The Internet Journal of Otorhinolaryngology, 4(2).