Many people every day do things that hurt their ears, and they don’t even realize it. Noises don’t have to hurt physically to damage your hearing, so, in this case, knowledge and awareness are needed. Knowledge is power and being aware is one of the best ways to protect your ears from dangerous outside stimuli. To educate and spread awareness, here are some of the ways your lifestyle may be damaging to your hearing.
Portable Media Players
Portable media players have come a long way, and you see them everywhere nowadays. However, most people wear headphones or earbuds, and most are not cognizant of the damage these devices can cause. Having the volume turned up too loud when a pair of headphones or earbuds is on a person’s head can have a detrimental effect on hearing health. Playing music through speakers is best, and avoiding earbuds when possible. Having ear buds in can increase a sound’s volume by 6 to 9 decibels due having a source of sound located directly in the ear canal.
Many don’t realize this, but your form of transportation might also be guilty of damaging your hearing. If you ride on a motorcycle or in a convertible, then you know how loud driving in these vehicles can be. Unfortunately, convertibles and motorcycles can contribute to hearing loss due to the lack of a buffer between you and the sounds of the engine, the road, and everything around you. Even those who ride on public transportation are still at risk for hearing loss, in particular for those who ride the subway.
Work-related noises that are loud and heard daily on a consistent basis can take quite a toll on your hearing. These everyday noises can damage your hearing in time, and are usually the most dangerous. They are dangerous because many “get used” to the loud noises they hear on a day-to-day basis and learn to shut them out eventually. Professions such as carpenters, factory workers, hair stylists, musicians, airfield workers, dentistry, athletics, as well as those who serve in the military are all at risk of work-related hearing loss.
While prescription medication is prescribed to treat a medical condition, there are at least 100 classes of drugs that may contribute to hearing loss. Temporary hearing loss is known to happen from taking certain over the counter drugs such as quinine, NSAIDs, and aspirin. While other drugs have been discovered to cause permanent hearing loss, such as taking aminoglycoside antibiotics, chemo drugs, and loop diuretics. Powerful drugs such as these can destroy the irreplaceable hair cells and the cochlea within the inner ear.
While some drugs can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss, there are also certain medical conditions that may also cause hearing loss. Hearing loss can happen from otosclerosis, Meniere’s disease, meningitis,
tumors, high blood pressure, as well as from diabetes. Having too much ear wax built up can also affect one’s hearing and cause temporary hearing loss, and also from trauma. When there is trauma, connections of the auditory system may not function properly and results in the brain not receiving messages. If there is an injury to the eardrum and the eardrums become ruptured due to the insertion of objects into the ear, hearing loss may be permanent.
While we all know the risks of smoking, many don’t realize that smoking can also be a cause of hearing loss. When a person smokes cigarettes, it heightens the blood flow in the body. This change in blood flow can affect the auditory system and affect a person’s balance. Also, nicotine is known to interferes with the neurotransmitters located in the auditory nerve. This nerve is responsible for communicating with the brain and lets the brain know what sound it is hearing. Smoking can also irritate the lining of the middle ear and the Eustachian tube.
Even though many Americans are exposed to these risks daily, there are ways to protect your ears and help prevent hearing loss.
- Limit the volume level on your personal media devices and never listen with the volume turned all the way up.
- Whenever possible, listen to audio through a speaker, not through headphones.
- When exposed to noise that is at or above 85 decibels, wear protective earmuffs or ear plugs.
- Minimize your exposure to persistent loud noises.
- Receive annual checkups from your doctor.