7 Surprising Risk Factors for Hearing Loss

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When you consider hearing health risk factors, some answers are readily apparent: old age, traumatic brain injury, excessive noise exposure, etc. Not all hearing risk factors are so obvious, but they are risk factors nonetheless. Here are seven surprising hearing health risk factors:

  1. Vaping

Although some people think of vaping as a smoking alternative with fewer risks, the scientific community has yet to explore many of the possible risk factors associated with vaping. Even with all of the factors not yet fully researched, it is apparent that any nicotine use is dangerous. Nicotine poses a danger to your hearing health because the chemical restricts blood flow to all parts of the body, including the ears.

Some e-cigarettes do not contain nicotine, but this does not mean they are safe. One chemical included in the flavorings is called propylene glycol, and it has been shown to be harmful to the ears.

  1. Chronic stress

You may be aware that people who suffer from chronic acute stress are at risk of developing health conditions, but did you know that hearing loss is one of them? Just as nicotine restricts blood flow, acute stress can restrict both oxygen and blood circulation.

For sufferers of chronic acute stress, this can result in long periods of time with limited oxygen and blood flow to the inner ear, which can result in hearing damage.

  1. Sleep apnea

Several recent studies have linked sleep apnea to hearing loss. Although researchers are not certain yet about the details of how these conditions are connected, they believe it may be due to restricted blood supply in the ears. Another possible explanation is that years of loud snoring can damage a person’s hearing ability.

  1. Erectile dysfunction drugs

Your doctor might not have mentioned it, but erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra are considered ototoxic, or harmful to your hearing. In fact, men who take Viagra or other PDE-5 inhibitors are twice as likely to experience hearing loss as those who do not, and they may experience sudden hearing loss in one or both ears.

Before starting an erectile dysfunction drug or any other new medication, you may want to ask your medical provider about possible hearing health risks.

  1. Mumps

Mumps is a common childhood disease that can have serious side effects, including hearing loss. Researchers believe the virus damages the cochlea, which is the snail-shaped structure in the ear where the stereocilia and stria vascularis are found. To prevent hearing loss and other side effects associated with mumps, medical professionals recommend immunizing children against the disease at around 12-15 months of age.

  1. Excessive alcohol use

Excessive alcohol use can wreak havoc on your health, including your hearing health. Research has shown that excessive drinking can damage the central auditory cortex, which increases the amount of time needed for the brain to process sound. Studies have shown that heavy drinking also causes problems in processing low-frequency sounds.

Furthermore, alcohol can be absorbed into the fluid of the inner ear, resulting in balance problems even after alcohol is no longer present in the blood.

  1. Iron deficiency

In a recent study conducted at the University of Pennsylvania, it was found that people with iron deficiency anemia (IDA) are twice as likely to experience hearing loss than those without the blood condition. Researchers believe this may be due to iron’s critical role in providing a healthy blood supply in the inner ear, where delicate hair cells process sound.

To learn more about risk factors of hearing health and how to treat hearing loss, we welcome you to contact our audiologist office today. We look forward to caring for you!


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