You may understand many of the hearing loss risk factors, such as frequent exposure to loud noises, old age, and ear injury, and do as much as you can to protect yourself from hearing loss due to these factors.
However, there are many more little-known hearing loss risk factors that you should learn about. Learning about these risk factors can help you identify those that may apply to you, so you can take steps to avoid hearing loss when possible.
Read to learn about three little-known hearing loss risk factors and what you can do to help maintain your healthy hearing, even when the risk factor is not completely under your control.
1. Heart Disease
If you are one of the millions of people in the United States who currently live with heart disease, then it is important to know that heart disease suffers are more prone to developing hearing loss than the general population.
Many forms of heart disease lead to reduced blood flow throughout your entire body, including the blood vessels in your inner ears. Since blood transports much-needed oxygen to your body's tissues, reduced blood flow to your inner ears can starve the hair cells in your inner ear called the cochlea of the oxygen they need to survive. As these cells gradually die off due to oxygen deprivation, it can lead to hearing loss.
This makes it very important to keep your heart disease under control for the sake of not only your heart health but also to preserve your good hearing.
If you smoke cigarettes, then you likely know that you should quit to protect yourself from lung cancer and the many other diseases smoking has been proven to cause. However, you may not know that smoking cigarettes can lead to hearing loss. A study conducted revealed that cigarette smokers are 70 percent more likely to suffer from hearing loss than those who do not smoke.
In addition, even if you do not smoke, if you live with a smoker and frequently inhale second-hand smoke, you may also be more prone to developing hearing loss in the future.
Smoking cigarettes affect your ear health in many ways. The nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke constricts blood vessels in your entire body, leading to reduced blood supply to your tissues and cells, including those in your inner ear. This can starve the cochlea cells in your inner ears of oxygen, just as reduced blood flow from heart disease can.
In addition, inhaling the additional toxic chemicals in smoke causes DNA damage to your entire body, including your inner ears.
Quit today to protect your hearing, as well as your overall health.
3. Certain Medications
If you are one of the 70 percent of Americans who take at least one prescription medication or even just take over-the-counter medications on occasion, then you may not realize that some medications can contribute to hearing loss in some people.
Medications that can lead to hearing loss over time are called ototoxic medications. While some can cause an alarming temporary loss of hearing only while the medication is being taken, others can cause permanent hearing loss that persists even after you stop taking the medication.
There are about 200 ototoxic medications that have been identified. Most prescription ototoxic medications are used to treat heart failure, hypertension, and cancer, although an antibiotic class called aminoglycosides can also be ototoxic. Speak to your doctor to determine if the specific prescription medication you take is ototoxic and if so, ask if there is an alternative that will help control your disease just as well without potentially damaging your hearing.
Over-the-counter NSAIDs, including naproxen sodium and ibuprofen, can also be ototoxic, along with aspirin taken in very high dosages.
There are many more hearing loss risk factors than you may realize. If one of these risk factors applies to you, then take steps to eliminate the risk factor if you can, and if you cannot, be sure to have your hearing tested on a regular basis. Contact the House of Hearing Inc. to schedule a hearing exam today.