These aren't the only things that can trigger temporary or permanent hearing loss, however. There are many things you might not expect to impact your hearing that do. Here are some of the most surprising causes of hearing loss, and how you can avoid them.

1. Stress

It's already established that there's a connection between stress and tinnitus, so this one may not be as much of a surprise. Hypertension accompanying severe stress can cause hemorrhaging in the ears, which can ultimately result in either temporary or permanent damage. Fortunately, there are many ways you can address stress-induced tinnitus and hearing loss.

If you want to reduce or avoid unpleasant buzzing in your ears, experts recommend you:

  • Reduce caffeine intake.
  • When you feel stressed, try refocusing your attention on a simple task like cleaning.
  • Talk with a supportive person such as a friend, family member, or therapist.
  • Exercise and maintain a healthy diet.
A hearing care professional can give you more information about other types of tinnitus treatments. 

2. Excessive Exercise

Generally, moderate exercise is recommended as a way to promote better overall health, including hearing. But believe it or not, overdoing it at the gym can damage more than your muscles. It can also wreak havoc on your hearing. We're not just talking about hearing damage due to loud workout music or dropping weights, either, though listening to music about 85 decibels is a risk.
Vigorous exercise can lead to a range of hearing problems, including dizziness, temporary tinnitus, or even damage to the membranes in your inner ear. Fortunately, this hearing loss is usually temporary. It should subside with a bit of rest.

3. Medication

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.
Woman concerned about hearing loss

4. Poor diet

Individuals who are severely overweight or suffering from dietary disorders experience a much higher risk of hearing loss. This is because poor dietary practices, such as consuming excessive fats and sugars or failing to consume nutrients such as vitamin B12, can interfere with the flow of blood through the body, particularly to the ears. Fortunately, this is simple enough to address.

5. Allergies

Allergies are frequently accompanied by symptoms such as itchy eyes, a scratchy throat, and severe congestion. However, swelling from an allergic reaction can also block the ear canal, building up fluid in the ears which can cause infection. While the subsequent hearing impairment generally only lasts during allergy season, if untreated, the infection may develop into something more permanent.

6. Lack of sleep

As you might expect, poor sleep comes with a whole laundry list of potential conditions. It causes issues for pretty much your entire body, including your mental health, gastrointestinal health, and cardiovascular health. Bad sleep habits can also worsen conditions such as tinnitus, as well.

7. Smoking

According to research from the U.S. National Library of Medicine, smokers are at a considerably higher risk of suffering from noise-induced hearing loss. Even former smokers suffer from a slightly higher risk of hearing damage. This is because smoking irritates the lining of the middle ear, and the nicotine in cigarettes blocks the neurotransmitters that send auditory information to your brain.

Even secondhand smoke carries with it some risk, but significantly reduced compared to habitual smokers.

8. Illness

It's not just illnesses and infection of the ears that can impact your hearing.  Influenza (or the flu) can sometimes cause your hearing to go haywire. Your ears may feel clogged or stuffed, due to fluid in the tubes of your middle ear.
Meningitis, inflammation of the spinal fluid, can also cause hearing loss, particularly if it's localized around the upper spinal cord. Children are especially susceptible to this, and in rare cases, they may even suffer permanent damage. Other illnesses such as measles may also cause damage to the ears.

9. Diabetes

As noted by the American Diabetes Association, there is a significant link between the disease and hearing loss, noting that according to one study, it can be twice as common in people with diabetes compared to those without. The good news is that avoiding type 2 diabetes is as simple as watching what you eat.
As for type 1, make sure you regularly get your glucose levels checked and visit a physician if you suspect you may be suffering from the disease.


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.