Common Causes of Hearing Loss Explained
Do you ever feel like your words aren’t being comprehended as they should be? Or perhaps you are struggling to follow conversations with your family, friends or colleagues. These communication difficulties may be a sign of a hearing loss. The reasons people experience a hearing loss are a mixture of genetics, lifestyle, health conditions and aging. While each person is unique, there are a few common causes of hearing loss.
It’s imperative to know that anyone can suffer from hearing loss; however, being around loud noises tends to progress the loss quite rapidly. Repeated exposure to loud noises, and even one time exposure to very loud noises can cause permanent hearing damage. This is why it is so important to wear ear plugs when around loud noises, such as heavy machinery, lawn mowers, motorcycles, snow mobiles etc. Taking steps towards protecting your hearing through proper ear protection is the best way to prevent a hearing loss down the road.
Some pharmaceutical drugs include ototoxic ingredients that are scientifically proven to cause damage to hearing. These include certain antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs, and even high levels of aspirin may cause lasting hearing issues. Other ototoxic substances that can damage the ear include tin, arsenic, manganese, mercury and lead. Your primary physician can test you for elevated levels of these substances. Whenever you are prescribed a drug, always ask if there are any ototoxic side affects. If so, ask your doctor if there is an alternative you may take that does not cause damage to hearing.
In today’s age and time, many people — especially younger people — are using ear buds on a daily basis to listen to their favorite tunes. And while the ear buds themselves don’t normally cause damage to the ear, when the buds don’t block background noise, this causes a person to turn up the sound of the music. Keeping this in mind, it’s always best to use ear buds or headphones that completely block out background noise so that the music doesn’t have to be too loud.
It’s well-known that smoking causes much damage to the heart and lungs, but many people are unaware that it also contributes to hearing loss. When smoking, the blood vessel serving the cochlea doesn’t get as much oxygen as it needs, thus resulting in a loss of hearing. Also notable is that nicotine causes blood vessels to shrink, which can lead to a shrinkage in the small capillaries found in the ear.
Infections that set up in the ear are not only painful, but when not treated quickly and properly, they can lead to detrimental hearing loss. This is why it’s important to catch the infections as soon as possible and have them treated promptly.
People who suffer from diabetes have abnormal blood vessels, which reduces blood flow to the ears. Diabetes also contributes to hearing loss because when blood flow is reduced, this causes toxins in the ears to be trapped.
Sickle Cell Anemia
Fatigue and pain are common symptoms for people who have sickle cell anemia. The red blood cells in the body are not able to carry sufficient amounts of energy and oxygen to the various parts of the body, including the ears, which often leads to a loss of hearing. Some people who have sickle cell anemia have been known to go completely deaf in less than 24 hours.
Statistics Regarding Hearing Loss
Are you or a loved one noticing signs of a hearing loss? If so, you certainly are not alone.
In fact, the latest available statistics show that over 12% of Americans experience some degree of hearing loss. That is an astonishing 38 million Americans dealing with a loss. Furthermore, people wait on average 7 years before seeking treatment and roughly 15 million Americans avoid seeking help altogether.
Consider these statistics reported by Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D., Executive Director of the Better Hearing Institute :
- 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 have some degree of hearing loss;
- 1 in 6 baby boomers (ages 41-59), or 14.6%, have a hearing problem;
- 1 in 14 Generation Xers (ages 29-40), or 7.4%, already have hearing loss;
- At least 1.4 million children (18 or younger) have hearing problems;
- It is estimated that 3 in 1,000 infants are born with serious to profound hearing loss.
Studies have linked untreated hearing loss to emotional, physical, mental, psychological and even economic disadvantages. Seeking early intervention for a hearing loss allows people to improve their quality of life, both personally and professionally through advanced hearing aid technology.