If you or a loved one suffers from hearing loss, you have probably heard all of the common causes of hearing loss, from aging, illness and loud noises to earwax build-up. Some less common causes of hearing loss exist that you may not have heard about, however. It’s a good idea to know these as well, so you can do your best to prevent further damage.
Anxiety and Stress
We constantly hear that stress is bad for our health, and now we know that it is also bad for hearing health. Research has even uncovered a correlation between sudden hearing loss and anxiety. Physical symptoms like heart disease, high blood pressure, and other health issues can add to this cycle. Inner ear blood flow is affected by our overall health and circulation, which in turn affects hearing. With hearing loss follows more stress, and the cycle continues.
Overweight and Hard of Hearing
A host of health problems and illness are caused by obesity, and hearing loss can now be added to the list. Research shows a definite connection between waist size and hearing damage. Though we don’t know exactly why, experts suppose that the small blood vessels called capillaries are put under pressure with excess weight. This leads to less oxygenation of the cells. The capillaries of the inner ear cells can be damaged with that decreased blood flow, and hearing loss follows. If these inner ear cells are deprived of oxygen, they can die, which leads to permanent hearing damage.
Though obesity and by extension hearing loss can affect anyone, there is hope. Taking control of your health now can reverse some of the effects and prevent further damage. And it doesn’t take much: just work to get movement into your day.
Walking around the block once or twice every day can reap huge health rewards when you are consistent. Women who walk as little as two hours over the course of a week can lower the risk of hearing loss risk by 15% over those who walked less than an hour per week. That’s only about 20 minutes a day!
Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medicines
The life-saving power of antibiotics cannot be understated, and they should absolutely be used in those instances. When the illness is less severe, however, risk-vs-benefits analysis may be in order. Some classes of antibiotics are known to result in ototoxicity (medication-induced hearing loss). Ototoxicity can cause hearing damage that is temporary or permanent, so always research the side effects of any medicine you are taking.
Aminoglycosides are the primary category of ototoxic antibiotics. This class of medicines have been restricted to cases of life-threatening issues in which other antibiotics are ineffective. Of course hearing loss is undesirable, but it is better than loss of life, so the risks should be weighed.
Since it has been shown that people with diabetes have more than twice the risk of hearing loss as non-diabetics, this is just one more reason to watch your blood sugar levels. Pre-diabetics are not immune, either: a person with high blood sugar categorized as pre-diabetes has a 30 percent higher risk of hearing loss than those with normal blood sugar levels.
Though we don’t know exactly why high blood sugar correlates so closely with hearing loss, studies have shown that higher levels of blood glucose can cause damage to the inner ear capillaries, which in turn can cause hearing loss. Therefore if you have any suspicion that you may be susceptible to diabetes or high blood sugar, regular hearing screenings are crucial to maintaining hearing health and preventing hearing loss.
The inner ear capillaries are incredibly sensitive and require excellent blood flow. The changes in blood circulation and pressure that come with heart disease can therefore affect hearing as well. The link between heart health and hearing health is so solid that experts recognize that healthy hearing can also be a sign of a healthy cardiovascular system. They also use hearing loss in the diagnosis of heart disease or a sign that it could be near.
And because hearing damage is now recognized as a likely marker of heart disease, it becomes vital to screen your hearing health regularly. This is a great reason to never miss a yearly hearing evaluation at your audiologist office: any change in hearing health could be a change in heart health!
The first step to halting hearing loss and preventing further damage is to recognize your situation. Come in today for a hearing screening and formulate a strategy to train your brain to listen actively and effectively.
Diablo Hearing Services 2301 Camino Ramon, STE 106 San Ramon (925) 394-4646