When you think about hearing loss risk factors, you probably picture people working on construction sites or partying at rock concerts. This isn’t incorrect, but there are so many lesser-known factors that can lead to minor or severe hearing loss. We hope the list below helps you assess your own hearing loss risk and empowers you to make your hearing health a priority.
Probably the most well-known risk factor for hearing loss is exposure to loud sounds
. We can divide this into two categories:
- Exposure to explosive noises. Exposure to an explosive noise, even just one time, can cause permanent hearing loss on the spot. This could come from a firearm, jet engine, motorcycle, snowmobile, etc.
- Long-term exposure to loud noises. Listening to loud music regularly or having a loud work environment (e.g., factory or construction site) can cause inner ear damage. This hearing loss tends to be more gradual, so people are less likely to notice it right away.
Genetics is one of the risk factors that’s beyond your control. Your genetic makeup can make you more vulnerable to ear damage
. This includes damage from loud noises, as discussed above, and age-related hearing loss
If your parents or grandparents suffer from hearing loss, you should be more diligent about protecting your ears. This means being aware of the risk factors on this list and getting regular hearing tests.
Chronic stress can put you at a higher risk for several health issues, including hearing-related issues like tinnitus
. The connection between stress and hearing loss isn’t entirely clear, but it’s very likely related to circulation. When we’re stressed, our bodies temporarily divert oxygen to our muscles. This lack of oxygen can, over time, damage our inner ear.
There is evidence that some medications, including erectile dysfunction
and chemotherapy drugs
, can damage your inner ear and affect your hearing. If you’re concerned about how your medication could affect your hearing, please discuss this with your doctor.
Enjoying a glass of wine now and then doesn’t mean you’re doomed to lose your hearing. Excessive drinking, however, can damage your central auditory cortex
. This can result in your brain taking longer to process sound.
Vaping can cause hearing loss. The reason? Most e-cigarettes contain nicotine
, which restricts blood flow to various parts of your body, including your inner ear. Vapes carry the same risk of hearing loss.
Any disease, infection, or illness that causes a high fever can damage the cochlea. Perhaps the two best examples of this are meningitis
— both common childhood diseases. Though still a risk factor worth noting, neither disease carries a massive risk for hearing loss. Having had one of these diseases doesn’t mean you’ll suddenly begin losing your hearing.
Multiple studies have found that people with sleep apnea are more prone to hearing loss
. The reason for this isn’t entirely clear, though there are a few theories:
- The condition may cause inflammation of the cochlea.
- Years of snoring may damage hearing.
- Sleep apnea can reduce blood supply to the inner ear.
You can reduce your chances of sleep apnea and, by extension, hearing loss by managing your weight and exercising regularly.
A study of over 300,000 adults by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found a connection between hearing loss and anemia
. If you think you’re suffering from iron-deficient anemia, taking steps to manage your condition could be beneficial for your long-term hearing health.
Booking annual hearing tests is one of the best things you can do for your hearing, whether you’re at high risk for hearing loss or not. Contact us
today to learn more!