A hearing loss can drastically alter your life. Simple motor skills like crossing the road or driving could be hampered by a sudden loss of hearing in one or both ears. This might be harmful, even fatal.
Hearing loss may result when the ear organs or nerves are harmed by an accident, an infection, or a disease. However, sometimes you can avoid these problems by taking good care of your ears. Nevertheless, this article discusses the worst habits that may cause hearing loss.
But before we get into that, here is how you may experience a sudden loss of hearing in one ear or both.
How hearing loss happens
Hearing loss can occur when there is damage to the inner ear, the auditory nerve, or the brain.
In the inner ear, tiny hair cells are responsible for converting sound waves into electrical signals that the brain can interpret. When these hair cells are damaged or destroyed, the brain does not receive the proper signals, and hearing loss occurs.
Hearing loss can also occur when damage occurs to the auditory nerve, which carries electrical signals from the inner ear to the brain. This type of hearing loss is called “nerve deafness.”
Finally, hearing loss can occur when there is damage to the brain, which is responsible for interpreting the electrical signals from the inner ear. This type of hearing loss is called central deafness.
Many causes of hearing loss include exposure to loud noises, certain medications, aging, and genetics. By taking steps to protect your hearing and seeking medical treatment when needed, you can help reduce the risk of hearing loss.
Worst habits that could lead to deafness
Now that you know how hearing loss happens, here are some of the worst behaviours that may accelerate hearing loss:
Listening to loud music or other loud noises
Exposure to loud noises can damage the hair cells in the inner ear responsible for converting sound waves into electrical signals that the brain can interpret. This can cause hearing loss.
The louder the noise, the faster it causes hearing loss. For example, a loud noise that is 90 decibels (dB) can cause hearing loss after just 8 hours of exposure, while a noise that is 100 dB can cause hearing loss after just 15 minutes.
Protecting your hearing by avoiding loud noises or using earplugs or other ear protection when exposed to loud noises is vital. If you are listening to music through headphones or earbuds, it is crucial to keep the volume at a safe level and to take breaks from listening to give your ears a rest. If you are in a loud environment, such as a concert or a club, it is also a good idea to wear earplugs to protect your hearing. This also applies to people working in extremely loud environments like a construction site or a factory.
Using cotton swabs or other objects to clean the ear
The ear is self-cleaning and does not need to be cleaned with cotton swabs or other objects. Putting things in the ear that aren’t meant to be there can hurt the ear’s delicate tissues and cause hearing loss.
A sensitive skin layer and hearing-related hair cells line the ear canal. Hearing loss can occur when these tissues are harmed. The eardrum can become irritated or punctured when cotton swabs or other things are inserted into the ear, resulting in hearing loss.
If you think you have something stuck in your ear, it is best to seek medical attention rather than trying to remove it yourself. A doctor or nurse can safely remove the object and check for possible damage to your ears using expert techniques.
Be gentle when cleaning the outer ear and avoid inserting foreign objects into the ear. If you are concerned about earwax build-up, you should speak with a healthcare provider about safe and effective ways to remove it.
Taking Specific Medications
Some medications, including certain antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs, can cause hearing loss as a side effect. This is known as ototoxicity. Medications that can cause hearing loss include:
- Certain antibiotics, such as aminoglycosides and vancomycin
- Chemotherapy drugs, such as cisplatin and carboplatin
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen
- Loop diuretics, such as furosemide and ethacrynic acid
- Certain antipsychotic medications, such as chlorpromazine and haloperidol
Hearing loss caused by ototoxic medications is typically reversible once the medication is stopped. However, in some cases, the hearing loss may be permanent.
So before starting treatment, discussing the potential risks and benefits of any medication with your doctor is essential. If you are taking a medication that may cause hearing loss and are experiencing hearing problems, you must speak with your doctor about your concerns.
You can help protect your hearing by knowing the possible risks of certain medications and getting medical help when you need it.
Smoking can increase the risk of hearing loss in several ways, and the first is that it may damage the inner ear blood vessels. Smoking can increase the risk of other conditions that can cause age-related hearing loss.
By quitting smoking, you can help reduce the risk of hearing loss and improve your overall health. If you are struggling to quit smoking, there are many resources available to help, including support groups, nicotine replacement therapy, and prescription medications. It is never too late to quit smoking and improve your health.
Extreme Sports Without Hearing Protection
Extreme sports, such as skydiving, deep-sea diving, skiing, mountain climbing, and bungee jumping, can expose the inner ear to extreme changes in pressure that can lead to hearing loss. The inner ear is filled with fluid that is sensitive to pressure changes. When the pressure changes too quickly, it can cause damage to the hair cells in the inner ear, leading to hearing loss.
Besides the pressure that goes along with extreme sports, head injuries are also common with such activities. When the head is subjected to a traumatic force, such as in a car accident or a fall, it can damage the delicate tissues in the inner ear and lead to hearing loss.
That said, protecting your head and ears while participating in extreme sports or other activities that may result in head injuries is important. Wearing a helmet and other protective gear can help reduce the risk of head injuries and hearing loss.
Suppose you think you may have experienced a head injury or hearing loss due to an extreme sport or other activity. In that case, it is important to see a doctor or audiologist for a hearing evaluation. They can assess any potential damage and recommend treatment options.
Can you prevent all hearing loss?
It is not always possible to prevent all hearing loss. Some causes of hearing loss, such as ageing and genetics, cannot be avoided. However, if you are vigilant and avoid or at least minimise the above worst habits that could lead to hearing loss, you will protect your ears longer and keep your hearing safer. Besides that, ensure you eat a healthy diet, sleep enough, and adopt an active lifestyle that helps with better blood circulation to the ears.
Additionally, ask your doctor how to avoid hearing loss before taking any drug that lists it as a side effect. Last but not least, if you begin to lose your hearing, get medical attention right away to prevent long-term harm.