The most common cause of hearing loss is connected to age, with one in three over 65 affected and half of those 75 and older. However, there are many ways to protect your hearing for years to come. The second most common and well-known cause of hearing loss is caused by exposure to loud noise. When the volume passes a safe listening threshold, it can cause audio vibrations loud enough to cause damage to the tiny hair-like cells of the inner ear. These cells are the sole delivery system of sound from the ear to the brain, leaving people of all ages with lifelong hearing loss. It’s important to do what we can now, to protect our hearing for the future. Aside from hearing protection in noisy spaces there are many dangers to our hearing that most of us are not aware of. Here are some of the most uncommonly known:
Smoking – and second-hand smoke
If you haven’t ditched this harmful and hazardous habit already, here is just one more reason. Aside from causing emphysema and lung cancer, those who smoke are far more likely to suffer hearing loss. In fact, according to a study including over 3,500 people, smokers are nearly 70% more likely than non-smokers to experience hearing loss. However, it’s important that your actions don’t occur in a bubble. Aside from the impact to your own health, secondhand smoke can affect the hearing of those who live with you. The study found that those who had consistent exposure to secondhand smoke, such as a spouse, roommate or child had an increased risk of hearing loss by one third. This is because cigarettes contain many ototoxic chemicals (chemicals which damage hearing) including formaldehyde, arsenic, and hydrogen cyanide. These chemicals can constrict blood flow and damage the tiny hair cells which are essential in supporting healthy hearing.
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, affects about 1 in 3 Americans (approximately 75 million of us)! Why does the US have such high rates of high blood pressure? The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that “High blood pressure usually develops over time. It can happen because of unhealthy lifestyle choices, such as not getting enough regular physical activity. Certain health conditions, such as diabetes and having obesity, can also increase the risk for developing high blood pressure.” This is concerning for so many aspects of our health, such as heart disease, kidney failure and dementia. It is also a driving risk factor for hearing loss. A
recent study reported that hypertension may be a contributing factor towards an elevated risk of hearing loss.
The study identified that adults between the age of 45 to 64 are most at risk for hypertension related hearing loss because researchers believe that hypertension accelerates hearing loss that already occurs naturally through the aging process. This is why it is important to monitor hypertension regularly and take actions to keep it under control – including, keeping up with recommended medications from your doctor, staying active, eating a healthy diet, rich in vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains, while avoiding processed sugars. (don’t worry! You can start after the new year!)
When we get behind the wheel, we do what we can to stay safe. However, it is not always possible to avoid accidents. Since their introduction as a staple of automotive safety, air bags are said to have saved 50,457 lives in the United States. However, they do have some dangerous side effects. Airbags project out of the dashboard or on the side, in order to reduce the deadly impact of a car crash, but the force of projecting an airbag out can have negative health effects, itself. Studies have found that 17-20% of people who have been involved in car accidents where airbags have been deployed have experienced damage to their hearing. This is because an impact to the head can damage the inner ear, causing sensorineural hearing loss.
Are You Struggling with Hearing Loss?
If you feel like you have to ask people to repeat themselves more and more often, give yourself a practical gift for this holiday season. Contact us today to screen for hearing loss. The sooner you act the better chance you have of avoiding more serious symptoms down the road.