You are probably aware of the standard causes of hearing loss – prolonged exposure to loud sounds, older age, or birth defects. But are you aware of some of the more day-to-day causes of hearing loss?
- Health concerns: Those who are diabetic are twice as likely to experience hearing loss. Additionally, health problems like high blood pressure or high cholesterol can restrict blood flow and oxygen to the ear, causing damage. High Fever is another cause of hearing loss. Elevated temperatures can restrict oxygen flow and cause inflammation within the ear. Nerves begin breaking down when they do not get enough oxygen, so hearing can become permanently damaged.
- Daily sounds: Did you know hair dryers produce sound levels up to 85 decibels? While you would need to have the dryer pointed directly at your ear for eight hours straight to make a permanent difference in your hearing, daily drying can add up. Public transportation is another cause of hearing loss over time. Long commutes on noisy buses, trains, or subway can add up and overexposure to sirens can also cause damage.
- Music: The popularity of earbuds is leading to hearing loss. Because of their position within the ear, they are more dangerous than over the ear headphones. Try to stick to volumes at 60% or lower, and specifically buy sound-blocking headphones instead of cranking up the volume to drown out peripheral noises. The music in your exercise classes could be too loud as well. Ringing or buzzing is a sign the music is too loud, and there are phone apps that can tell you the sound levels around you. Use this information to decide if the class is worth the potential hearing damage.
- Appliances: Cooking appliances like blenders and grinders produce sounds that can grate on your hearing. Cooking professionals should wear ear plugs if they use the appliances daily and for prolonged amount of time. Power tools like jackhammers, drills, and mowers can also cause hearing loss. Don’t be tempted to stick dirty fingers in your ears to block out sound, as this can cause infections within the ear. Stick to standard hearing protection!
- Health treatments: Skipping out on an annual hearing check can be dangerous. Blockages are common, yet treatable by a medical professional. Don’t be tempted to use Q-Tips because you could damage your ear further. Talk to your doctor about frequent blockages since this is a sign of potential sinus infection, allergies, or build up due to elevation changes like plane rides. They can help clear ear wax and give advice for prevention. Also, be sure to ask your doctor about side effects of any prescriptions given. Diuretics, treatments for heart disease, chemotherapy, and antibiotics (from mycin family in particular) are potential causes of hearing loss. Over the counter pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen can also cause temporary hearing loss or tinnitus. With higher dosage and frequency of use, hearing damage can become permanent.
While you shouldn’t be afraid to live your life, consider the hidden causes of hearing loss in your everyday life and how you can prevent permanent damage.