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9 surprising causes of hearing loss

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9 surprising causes of hearing loss

You probably already know the common causes of hearing loss – aging, loud noises and even your work environment frequently do damage to your ears. 

However, there are other causes you may be less aware of that could be impacting your hearing health. Below, we’ve listed nine surprising causes of hearing loss – and what you can do to steer clear of them.

1. Stress

Did you know that stress can impact your hearing health? While it doesn’t directly cause hearing loss, stress has been linked to unpleasant ringing or hissing in your ears known as tinnitus. For some, the tinnitus experienced by stress can begin a vicious loop, in which stress causes tinnitus, which increases stress, and so on.

Fortunately, there are a few ways to address stress-induced tinnitus. If you want to reduce or avoid unpleasant buzzing in your ears, experts recommend you:

  • Reduce caffeine intake
  • Refocus your attention on a different task, like cleaning
  • Talk with a supportive person, like a friend, family member, or therapist
  • Get exercise and maintain a healthy diet

A hearing care professional can give you more information about other types of tinnitus treatments.   

2. Your Workout

Music is a great motivator when it comes to clocking miles on the treadmill or enjoying an exercise class. However, workout music played too loud for too long – even during an exercise class – can cause hearing loss. ASHA recommends listening to music at a volume of 85 decibels or less. Listening to music above this volume on your headphones or in an exercise class can cause you to experience temporary or permanent hearing loss.

If you begin noticing buzzing in your ears following a workout, consider wearing earplugs while exercising or turn the volume of your music down. If you are concerned about excessive gym background noise disrupting your workout, invest in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones to limit outside noise pollution.

3. Household Tools and Appliances

Commonly-used household tools such as blenders, drills and lawn mowers – when used frequently – can hurt your hearing over time. However, this doesn’t mean you have to quit your DIY or home chef hobbies! Instead, wear hearing protection such as ear muffs or plugs.

4. Restaurants and Bars

These days, most popular bars and restaurants don’t shy away from blaring the music and creating loud, energetic atmospheres. In fact, it’s become so common that it’s often easy to forget how hard these environments can be on our hearing. Overexposure to this loud music in these types of places can cause temporary hearing damage, and the background chatter in restaurants and bars adds to the volume.

While there’s not much you can do about how loudly restaurants and bars choose to play their music, you can take precautions by bringing a spare set of earplugs, or by picking a quieter place to dine. Many Internet restaurant review sites like Yelp provide information about noise levels, making it easy to find places with hearing-friendly atmospheres

5. Medications

Hearing loss is rarely mentioned in the laundry list of side effects rattled off at the end of pharmaceutical commercials. But some prescription medications, such as diuretics for heart disease and chemotherapy, are known to cause damage to the cells inside your ears. While the risk is more serious for those taking higher doses of certain medication, you should speak with your doctor about all potential side effects of medications you are prescribed. If hearing loss is on the list, you can discuss other treatments. 

6. Smoking

Believe it or not, research shows that smokers are 70 percent more likely to suffer from hearing loss. Smoking irritates the lining of the middle ear, and the nicotine in cigarettes blocks the neurotransmitters that send auditory information to your brain, impairing your ability to hear. We know quitting smoking isn’t easy, and while it will not reverse existing hearing loss, it will help to curb further deterioration. 

7. Diabetes

Hearing loss is twice as common in adults with diabetes compared to those who do not have the disease. High levels of blood sugar damage blood vessels in the ear, affecting blood flow to the ears and the brain, worsening hearing. To minimize diabetes’ influence on hearing, be sure to get your glucose levels checked regularly. Maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and don’t forget to have your hearing checked annually.

8. Obesity

Those who are severely overweight are also at a higher risk for hearing loss. A 2013 study found that obese women reported more issues with hearing than those of average weight. Those who are overweight have a higher risk of diabetes and heart disease, both of which impact blood flow to the brain and ears. By engaging in daily physical activity, even if it is going on a short walk, you can improve blood flow and protect against hearing loss.

9. Allergies

With allergies come itchy eyes, a scratchy throat and severe congestion. But swelling from an allergic reaction can also block the ear canal, building up fluid in the ears that leads to infection. While the subsequent hearing impairment generally only lasts during allergy season, if untreated, the infection may develop into permanent hearing loss.

Healthy hearing is the key to living your best life. Make sure your baseline hearing stays strong by taking a proactive approach to your hearing health. Take our FREE Online Hearing Test and get your results instantly. 

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