There are several reasons that hearing loss can occur in adults but, thankfully, three of the most common causes of hearing loss are actually preventable.

NOISE:

We should all know better than to bombard our ears continuously with loud noises but sometimes we just don’t think about it until it’s too late. These days, with an electronic device in everyone’s hand, we see more people with ear buds than ever before. In many cases, they are listening to music much louder than our ears were ever intended to hear. In fact, many people turn their music up even louder to avoid hearing the background or ambient noise that is still audible when listening to their music at acceptable levels.

Prevention #1: Lower the volume in your ear buds or purchase noise-canceling ear buds or headphones. Yes, they are more expensive than regular ear buds but they are way cheaper than a hearing aid.

In cities, the noise level just being in the city can range upwards of 80+ decibels which is just reaching the level at which, with regular prolonged exposure, you could experience hearing damage. That 80+ decibel level is just the regular noise; it’s not accounting for that trash truck you just walked by, the jack-hammer tearing up the sidewalk across from your apartment, or the ambulances rushing past. Many people take the subway train on a regular basis…twice a day, five days a week, 50 weeks a year. The squealing and squeaking of the train wheels can eventually cause hearing damage.

Prevention #2: Wear ear plugs while riding the subways and/or while walking to work. You don’t have to block all sounds (we want to safely hear what’s going on around us) but cutting down the amount of prolonged loud sounds can only help us in the long run.

Your job could be a major source of your hearing loss. Many occupations require one to be in very loud areas for several hours at a time (construction workers, factory workers, musicians, airline employees, firemen, etc). These workers would be served well by prevention #2 as well…wear earplugs or hearing protection headphones. Yes, you may look silly, but at least you’ll hear your spouse when he/she tells you how silly (or cute) you look in headphones!

SMOKING:

Everyone knows that the lungs and the heart take a major health hit when subjected to cigarette smoking. But smoking affects your blood vessels so, in reality, your whole body is affected. In the ear, the cochlea is served by one tiny blood vessel and when that blood vessel is constricted, the ear is deprived of the oxygen it needs to function properly. Nicotine is considered a vaso-constrictor and can cause blood vessels to shrink slightly. This is a big deal for the small capillaries that serve the inner ear which require a lot of blood flow from those tiny capillaries. Every time you light up a cigarette, you are depriving your ears of vitality. In fact, a study published by the Journal of the Association for Research into Otolaryngology showed that smokers have a harder time hearing high frequency sounds compared to non-smokers, and that your hearing can deteriorate after smoking regularly for more than a year. That may not sound like a big deal now but in the future when you can’t hear the laughter of your grandchildren…well, then it’s a bigger deal but the damage is done.keanu quit smoking

Prevention #3: Stop smoking (I know…easier said than done). For tips on quitting (without resorting to drug use), click here.

DRUGS:

Many people don’t read the warnings on the label (and who could blame them…the print is so small you need a magnifying glass and bright light to see it and why would anyone prescribe a medication that was harmful?) but one of the not-often talked about side effects of prescription and/or OTC drugs is hearing loss. These drugs are ototoxic, meaning that they have a toxic effect on the ear or it’s nerve supply.

Examples of ototoxic drugs would be:

  • over the counter drugs such as aspirin in high doses

  • some antibiotics

  • some chemotherapy drugs

  • loop diuretics

  • some anti-inflammatory drugs

Prevention #4: Just say no! Or at least, ask your physician if your prescribed drugs are ototoxic and, if so, ask for an alternative that isn’t.

If you feel that you’ve experienced some hearing loss and would like more information about hearing better, call us, email us, write us a letter….we want to hear from you and we want YOU to hear everyone!

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