August 14, 2019
Just a quick stroll around the city highlights the symphony of noises that inundate our lives: Sirens wailing, car speakers vibrating, or even headphones that drown out the external noise with music or your favorite podcast. So, what’s the cost to our ears when we constantly expose them to sound? Usually, not high. However, if your ears are consistently exposed to dangerous levels of sound, your hearing can be damaged. If you’re one of the 24 percent of American adults who do show signs of hearing loss, here are five things that may be the culprit.
This is no secret. Age-related hearing loss, called presbycusis, is one of the most common conditions impacting senior citizens. In fact, approximately one in three Americans between 65 and 75 have difficulty hearing – making life difficult and sometimes dangerous. Things like emergency alarms, telephone calls, and doorbells can potentially go unnoticed when someone has experienced hearing loss, and not being able to effectively communicate with doctors, friends, and family can sometimes lead to feelings of isolation and depression.
If your hearing loss is sudden or painful, it could be caused by an underlying disease or infection. Meniere’s disease , a chronic and incurable illness, has been known to cause hearing loss (though typically only in one ear). While there’s no confirmed cause of the disease, scientists point to infections, allergies, smoking, and migraines as possible triggers. In addition to hearing loss, early symptoms include sudden bouts of vertigo, ringing in the ears, and unsteady balance. Though the disease can’t be entirely cured, doctors suggest reducing salt and caffeine intake, quitting smoking, and stress management as possible ways to ease the uncomfortable symptoms.
While watching TV or listening to music seems innocent enough, blasting your favorite show on surround sound or turning the volume all the way up on your ear buds absolutely puts the ears at risk for life-long damage. This type of hearing loss is typically very slow, and often hard to notice until much later in life
Other things that can cause this slow deterioration of hearing include things like regularly working in a woodshop, frequent exposure to lawn mowers and leaf blowers, playing in a band, and consistently attending loud concerts.
An injury to the head or ear can cause abrupt and painful damage. This kind of injury can be sustained in a variety of ways. Sharp trauma, like sticking a cotton swab too far in the ear canal, can lacerate the ear canal wall and damage the ear. Other injuries that can decrease or eliminate hearing altogether are external injuries, like being hit or bumped in the head. This kind of injury is typically paired with a ringing in the ears and pain associated with certain sounds. Often, the effects increase in the weeks and months following the root injury.
You may be able to add hearing loss to the long list of traits passed down from your parents. In fact, it’s estimated that about 50 to 60 percent of hearing loss in babies is caused by genetics. Other times, the environment works directly with a person’s genes, deteriorating hearing loss by causing a dangerous interaction between medication and a mutated gene.
If you or someone you know is experiencing hearing loss, talk to your doctor, who can help assess the reasons behind your hearing loss and refer you to a specialist, if needed.
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. If you have, or suspect that you have, a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.