Family History: Hearing Loss and Genetics

Family History: Hearing Loss and Genetics

Hearing loss is one of the most common sensory disorders, and it often results from aging or exposure to loud noises. However, sensorineural hearing loss is a type of hearing loss that is as tied to genetics and can be passed down through the family.

Here are some helpful things to know when facing sensorineural hearing loss:


According to Boys Town National Research Hospital, roughly 50% of childhood hearing loss is genetic, with 400 known genetic causes involving hearing loss.

There are two types of genetic hearing loss: non-syndromic and syndromic. Syndromic hearing loss is accompanied with other symptoms of medical importance, such as blindness. Of the two, non-syndromic hearing loss is far more common.  

If one or both of your parents experienced hearing loss not related to age or loud noises, you could be a carrier. Carriers inherit a gene mutation that can lead to hearing loss without experiencing it themselves:

  • Carriers can pass their gene mutation and the subsequent hearing loss on to their children.
  • Many cases of genetic hearing loss result when both parents are carriers – this is known as “autosomal recessive.”
  • Rarely, genetic hearing loss occurs when one parent passes their hearing loss on to their child. This is called “autosomal dominant.”

Hearing loss doesn’t just affect the person involved, it impacts the entire family, and—in some cases—it’s passed down through the generations. By learning how hereditary hearing loss works, you’ll begin to understand the role it may play in your family in years to come.