Many individuals assume hearing loss is a part of the aging process; however, age-related degeneration of the auditory system is only one of many factors that cause hearing loss. In fact, many cases of hearing loss are entirely preventable. By understanding the risk factors associated with hearing loss, you can avoid dangerous behavior and keep your ears healthy for years to come. Here are some of the common risk factors associated with hearing impairments:
- Noise exposure. Prolonged exposure to dangerous sound levels is the No. 1 cause of hearing loss. Sounds over 85 dB can damage the tiny hair cells lining our inner ears, which are responsible for transmitting sound to the brain. By using hearing protection, you can avoid unsafe sound levels and prevent a permanent loss of hearing.
- Over-the-counter medications. To the surprise of many, some medications have ototoxic properties, meaning they have a toxic effect on the the auditory system. Check with you doctor about your medications to ensure they aren’t harmful to your hearing.
- Smoking. A history of smoking can contribute to hearing loss. In addition to the ototoxic chemical present in cigarettes, smoking also narrows your blood vessels and reduces the flow of oxygen to the ear. This increases the likelihood that hearing loss and tinnitus will develop. A clear correlation also exists between secondhand smoke and hearing disorders.
- Diabetes. Diabetes and loss of hearing are two of the most common chronic health conditions in America, and the two conditions also intersect. Studies have shown that hearing loss is twice as likely to occur in individuals with diabetes. This is possible due high glucose levels causing harm to the blood vessels in the inner ear.
If you or a loved one is at risk for losing your hearing, we recommend visiting an audiology professional. Even if there are no obvious signs of an auditory impairment, some degree of hearing loss may already exist. By treating the condition early, you can stop the further deterioration of your hearing and prevent complications due to untreated loss from arising. If you’d like to schedule a consultation with one of the best audiologists in Houston, contact our team today! Our clinic provides a variety of patient-focused services including hearing evaluations, tinnitus management, hearing aid fittings and the treatment of vestibular disorders.