Deafness is the complete loss of the ability to hear from one or both ears. Deafness may be inherited, or caused by complications at birth, certain infectious diseases, such as meningitis, use of toxic drugs, and exposure to excessive noise. Around half of all deafness and hearing impairment can be prevented.

Though there are more than 100 possible causes of sudden deafness, it is rare for a specific cause to be precisely identified. Only 10 to 15 percent of patients with SSHL know what caused their loss. Normally, diagnosis is based on the patient's medical history. Possible causes include the following:
• Infectious diseases.
• Trauma, such as a head injury.
• Abnormal tissue growth.
• Immunologic diseases such as Cogan's syndrome.
Hearing loss can also be classified based on which portions of the hearing system (auditory system) are affected. When the nervous system is affected, it is referred to as sensorineural hearing loss. When the portions of the ear that are responsible for transmitting the sound to the nerves are affected, it is referred to as conductive hearing loss.

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