Hearing experts have for decades warned against the effects of loud noise on hearing ability. Excessive noise can damage your ears permanently. According to CDC, one in every four adults have premature signs of noise-induced hearing loss, which worsens with age. Similarly, one in four adults aged 65 to 74 have a disabling hearing impairment. These individuals can benefit from quality hearing aids from HearCanada.
While loud noise, pre-existing genetic issues, and advancing age are widely known to affect hearing, they aren’t the only factors that can trigger hearing loss. New studies have identified other surprising factors that can trigger hearing loss. Knowing and avoiding these risks is important to your hearing health, especially as you grow old. These risk factors include:
The popular phrase “stress is a silent killer” is very true. Unlike before, more adults are exposed to stress due to several factors. Chronic stress affects several areas of human life and is linked to physical and psychological symptoms and diseases. However, most people don’t know that stress can cause hearing loss.
Ideally, stress is the natural body’s response to excessive physical and emotional demands. However, excessive stress can affect your health and hearing. For starters, stress weakens the immune system, causing high blood pressure, gastrointestinal problems, migraines, tinnitus, and hearing loss.
Excessive production of adrenaline, which is normal during stressful conditions, disrupts blood circulation and blood flow into the ear. Like other cells in the body, fragile cells in the ear rely on a steady supply of oxygenated blood for oxygen and nutrients. However, without a steady supply, the ear cells are damaged, affecting your hearing ability. Chronic stress often causes gradual hearing loss and tinnitus. Hearing loss caused by chronic stress is primarily characterized by the following:
- Muffled sounds
- Hearing loss affecting one or both ears
- Pain and pressure in the ears
- Ears feeling stuffed
While hearing loss can’t be prevented, reducing stressors can improve your hearing health.
2. High blood pressure
Maintaining your hearing health requires that you keep your overall well-being in check. High blood pressure or hypertension affects over 70 million adults in the U.S. It is primarily characterized by an increase in blood pressure, which forces the heart to beat faster and harder, sending pressurized blood to body organs. Uncontrolled hypertension affects various body organs, including the ear.
Recent studies found that hypertension causes temporary hearing impairment and accelerates permanent hearing loss. Increased heartbeat means the heart pumps blood to organs at high speeds. This affects delicate organs, such as the ear. Tiny blood vessels and sensitive nerves in the eardrum are easily overwhelmed by the burst of blood.
Most people with diagnosed hypertension experience temporary hearing loss. Fortunately, hearing ability is restored when blood pressure is stabilized. If left unchecked, hypertension causes severe hearing loss.
Some drugs have several side effects, which include tinnitus, hearing loss, and balance problems. Interestingly, over 200 known drugs are associated with loss of hearing and balance disorders. The severity of these drugs on your hearing ability depends on the drug, dosage, and how long you’ve used them.
However, high levels of the ototoxic drug in the body increase its risks. Medications can cause permanent or temporary hearing loss. Some classes of drugs linked with hearing impairments include:
- Quinine, hydroxychloroquine, and chloroquine
- Antibiotics, especially aminoglycosides
- Chemotherapy drugs
- Aspirin, when taken in large doses
- Loop diuretics
- Some diabetes drugs
You should contact your primary health care giver immediately if you develop hearing impairment.
4. Excessive exercises
While the benefits of healthy exercise to the mind and body are obvious, strenuous exercises can affect your hearing ability. Heavy exercises, such as weight lifting, increase intracranial pressure, indirectly increasing the pressure within your ears. Holding on to your breath for long when lifting weights also exerts pressure on the inner ear. To avoid these risks, clear your ear by yawning, don’t hold your breath for long, and avoid lifting excessive weights.
Besides heavy exercises, hearing loss can also be caused by smashing weights. Weight rooms can be noisy, especially if weightlifters don’t care how they stack weights. While it is ignorable, the noise produced by smashing weights is equivalent to a shotgun blast or deploying airbag. This is significant enough to cause hearing issues.
Loss of hearing in the gym can also be caused by loud music. Most athletes crank up music volumes for motivation. Loud music coupled with noise from stationary bikes, treadmills, and smashing weights is a perfect recipe for tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss.
5. Poor diet
Eating well is undoubtedly crucial for your overall health. Though surprising, poor nutrition can cause hearing loss. What you eat significantly affects your hearing health, especially as you grow older. While a healthy diet can’t reverse hearing loss, eating well protects your overall hearing health and reduces the risks of developing hearing problems.
Several studies have shown that some nutrients improve hearing health and prevent the development of hearing loss. For instance, including potassium in your diet improves how your inner ear processes and sends signals to the brain. Foods such as potatoes, bananas, and beans, are good sources of potassium.
Zinc also improves ear health and helps in the treatment of tinnitus. Most people with tinnitus feel relieved after dieting in foods rich in zinc. However, this doesn’t mean you should ignore appointments with your audiologist. Folic acid also slows the onset and progression of hearing loss.
Smoking or exposure to cigarettes is another lesser-known cause of loss of hearing. Several studies have shown that exposure to cigarette smoke affects a person’s hearing health. Cigarettes contain nicotine and produce carbon monoxide, constricting blood vessels in the body, including those in the inner ear. Smoking also reduces oxygen levels in the blood. Cigarette smoke and nicotine also:
- Interferes with the neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve, responsible for transmitting sound waves to the brain
- Irritates or blocks the Eustachian tube
- Causes inflammation by triggering the release of free radicals
Smoking also weakens the immune system, making your body organ, including the ear, susceptible to infections.
Hearing loss is often linked to loud sounds, advancing age, and genetics. However, some risk factors and potential causes are unpopular. Excessive alcohol consumption, sleep apnea, iron-deficient anemia, and heavy-metal contamination can also cause hearing loss.
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