Did you know that worldwide, disabling hearing loss affects 446 million people? If that’s not bad enough, experts say this will double come 2050!
In the U.S. alone, up to 37.5 million adults suffer from some form of hearing trouble. Disabling hearing loss, however, is present in up to 8.5% of U.S. adults aged 55 and older.
Those are statistics that you should no longer ignore, especially since some cases are preventable, such as with conductive hearing loss.
Learning what causes auditory issues will help you avoid them and lower your risks.
Are you looking for a way to prevent hearing loss before it starts? Be sure to keep reading so you can learn about the culprits that can take it away from you!
1. Surfer’s Ear
Also known as swimmer’s ear, this condition can occur due to constant exposure of the ears to wind and cold water. This combination leads to the ear bone growing in an abnormal manner. That growth then increases the risk of water and earwax getting trapped inside.
The abnormal growth, as well as trapped water and earwax, can cause hearing loss. However, they can also make a person more susceptible to ear infections. That further raises one’s risk of developing hearing problems.
That said, if you often take part in water activities, it’s best to wear waterproof earplugs to prevent water from getting into your ears and causing ear canal irritation.
For those with allergies, it’s common to suffer from bouts of sneezing and congestion. While this might seem normal enough, these allergic reactions can also cause conductive hearing loss.
One reason is that these symptoms trigger the body to create more mucus. This increased mucus production can then lead to swelling of the skin and blood vessels. That inflammation can affect some parts of the ear, which can then lead to hearing problems.
Infections of the middle ear are also common causes of hearing loss. In conductive hearing loss, an infection can cause fluid to accumulate in the middle ear, whereas viral infections, such as measles or mumps, can cause sensorineural hearing loss.
You can prevent middle ear infections by ensuring that your ears are dry after you shower or swim. To avert viral infections, consult your doctor to confirm your vaccines are up to date.
While there are many diseases that can affect hearing, there are some that occur in the ear itself. Let’s take a closer look at three of them.
Otosclerosis, although a rare middle ear disease, still affects three million Americans. It happens when a tiny bone in the middle ear goes through abnormal bone remodeling. In most cases, this occurs due to bone tissue in the middle ear growing around and covering the small bone.
Ménière’s disease, on the other hand, is an inner ear problem that usually affects middle-aged people. Those who suffer from this disease often also suffer from sensorineural hearing loss. The loss of hearing can be temporary, but in most people, it will become permanent.
Autoimmune Inner Ear Disease
Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system attacks healthy parts of the body. You could say that the immune system is malfunctioning, so it thinks of healthy body parts as “foreign”.
The ear, although rare, can develop one such disease, known as autoimmune inner ear disease. This happens when the immune system attacks the inner ear by mistake. Aside from hearing loss, it can also cause ringing in the ears as well as dizziness.
5. Injury or Trauma
Did you know that the three smallest bones in the human body are in the ear? Collectively known as the ossicles, their function is to amplify vibrations. They then transmit amplified vibrations to the inner ear.
When any of these bones sustain trauma, conductive hearing loss can occur. That trauma can be in the form of an ear infection, a serious blow to the head, or a collapsed eardrum.
Cuts, scrapes, and frostbite that affect the outer ear or ear canal can also lead to hearing loss. The blood from the injury or the infection can spread to the other parts of the ear. Left untreated, this can cause damage even to the inner ear.
6. Noise Exposure
Exposure to very loud sounds has led to 31.2 million kids and adults in the U.S. having permanent hearing loss. Known as “noise-induced hearing loss”, it’s a type of damage to the ear’s nerve fibers or structures. It results from constant exposure to sounds reaching 85 decibels or higher.
It’s for this reason that musicians, DJs, and soldiers hearing loss is quite common. Motorcyclists and construction workers are also at risk. In fact, if you go to the movies a lot, you can also be at risk since the sound decibel there can be up to 104 dBA!
That’s why protective earplugs and muffs are a must for workers in noisy environments. For everyday precaution, keep the volume of your music devices to only 60%. If you’ve been to a concert or sporting event, let your ears rest and don’t use headphones right away.
7. Some Types of Medications
Some types of over-the-counter and prescription medications can also cause hearing loss. These are “ototoxic” drugs, and there are about 200 of them on the market. Many of these are for the treatment of severe infections, heart disease, and cancer.
That’s why it’s crucial that you talk to your doctor first before you take any medicine. This way, your doctor can verify that it won’t cause ototoxicity.
Prevent Sensorineural or Conductive Hearing Loss by Avoiding Risky Situations
These are some of the common causes of sensorineural and conductive hearing loss. As you can see, many of them, such as damage from noise exposure, are preventable. By limiting your exposure to these high-risk places, you can prevent your ears from “going bad”.
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