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Top Causes of Hearing Loss and How to Avoid Them
Chances are even that, by the time you reach the age of 75, you’ll have some degree of hearing loss. This is usually referred to as presbycusis or age-related hearing loss, but how you lose your hearing isn’t always a singular or unavoidable event. In fact, there’s much you can do to minimize hearing loss.
Types of hearing loss
Hearing loss is grouped in one of three ways.
Conductive loss occurs in the outer or middle ear and typically involves some sort of physical blockage. Treating or removing the blockage can sometimes restore hearing, such as with an earwax buildup, but chronic conductive loss is often permanent.
Sensorineural loss involves the inner ear and represents a permanent loss resulting from a breakdown in signal flow between the ear and the brain. It’s common to lose high frequencies with sensorineural losses.
Mixed losses combine both conductive and sensorineural hearing issues.
Preventable causes of hearing loss
Not every case of hearing loss can be prevented. In fact, some may be genetically related or present from birth. Hearing loss may also result from an unexpected injury.
However, understanding that damage to your hearing is often cumulative underscores the importance of treating your ears as a precious resource. Preserving your hearing today may make a difference later in life.
Noise is all around you, and regardless of whether it’s due to industrial equipment or your favorite music, exposure to loud sound pressure levels can damage your hearing. There’s a volume/time relationship that serves as a general guideline for safe exposure to loud sounds.
Controlling sound exposure includes managing volume levels when you have control, such as with earbuds and headphones with personal music systems, or wearing hearing protection when you have no control, like when you work in a factory or go to a concert.
If you’re carrying extra weight, you could be increasing your chances of hearing loss. While the causes aren’t fully understood, it’s thought that high body mass affects the flow of blood through the inner ears. Increasing activity even modestly reduces the risk to your hearing.
High levels of glucose in your blood can damage both blood vessels and nerves throughout your body. Your chances of hearing loss nearly double with uncontrolled blood sugar levels, on top of the other health risks caused by the disease.
Another surprising cause of hearing loss, the connection with sleep apnea is a recent discovery, emerging from a 2014 study. Leaving sleep apnea untreated raises the risk to your heart as well as hearing.
Over 200 drugs, both over the counter and prescription, can cause hearing damage. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about the effects of a new medication on your hearing, and choose an alternative if there’s one available. Avoid long-term use of acetaminophen and ibuprofen, two common drugs known to raise the risk of hearing loss.
Regular hearing assessment sessions can tell you how well your preventive efforts are working. Contact Hearing & Balance Services of Reston for any hearing-related concerns. You can call the office or request an appointment online. Be proactive about preserving your hearing.