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Top Causes of Hearing Loss and How to Avoid Them

By the time you celebrate your 75th birthday, it’s likely that you’ll experience some degree of age-related hearing loss. Hearing loss describes the partial or full loss of your ability to hear. Due to age, underlying health issues, or environmental factors, you may find it increasingly difficult to hear conversations or the television.

Conrad McCutcheon, MD, FACS, offers comprehensive treatment services for hearing loss at Memorial Village Ear, Nose & Throat in Houston, Texas. He can also work with you to prevent chronic health conditions that may increase your risk factors for permanent damage and hearing loss.

Categories of hearing loss

There are three categories of hearing loss:

Conductive hearing loss

Conductive hearing loss generally occurs because of a physical blockage in your middle or outer ear.

By removing earwax buildup or other obstruction, you can often improve your hearing. If you have chronic conductive hearing loss, it may become permanent.

Sensorineural hearing loss

Sensorineural loss involves the inner ear and represents a permanent loss resulting from a breakdown in signal flow between the ear and the brain. It’s common to lose high frequencies with sensorineural losses.

Mixed hearing loss

Mixed hearing loss describes both conductive and sensorineural hearing issues.

Not every case of hearing loss is preventable, especially if you had hearing problems at birth or have genetic factors that increase your risk for hearing loss. Some people lose their hearing after an injury.

However, there are preventable causes that can affect your hearing. By understanding what environmental and physical factors play a role in damaging your hearing, you can take steps toward preserving your long-term ability to hear.

Preventable causes of hearing loss

By paying close attention to your own environment, you can reduce your risk for long-term or permanent hearing loss. The most common preventable causes of hearing loss include:

Sound exposure

Noise is present in many environments, including at work and at home. If you’re frequently exposed to loud sounds, they can damage your hearing.

There are general guidelines for safe exposure to loud sounds. Control volume levels when possible, such as with earbuds and headphones when listening to your personal music, and wear hearing protection when you’re exposed to loud noises at work or an event.   

Diabetes

Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can damage both the blood vessels and nerves that travel throughout your body, including your ears. In fact, your chances of hearing loss nearly double with uncontrolled blood sugar levels, in addition to the other health risks caused by the disease.

Stay on top of your condition by regularly monitoring your blood glucose levels, following a healthy diet plan, and taking medications when necessary to control your diabetes.

Certain medications

Over 200 drugs, both over the counter and prescription, can cause hearing damage. If you regularly take medications, discuss how they may affect your hearing with the team at Memorial Village Ear, Nose & Throat. If an alternative is available, they can determine if it’s worthwhile to make a change to your treatment plan.

You should also limit your use of aspirin and ibuprofen, two common over-the-counter medications known to raise the risk of hearing loss.

Body weight

If you’re carrying extra weight, you might be increasing your chances for future hearing loss. While the connection between your weight and your hearing isn’t fully understood, it’s likely that a high body mass affects how blood flows through your inner ears.

Protect your hearing by engaging in daily exercise, eating a healthy diet, and committing to drop excess body weight.

To further protect your hearing, you should schedule regular hearing assessments with the team at Memorial Village Ear, Nose & Throat, especially if you work in loud environments or have other risk factors. Request an appointment today by calling our office or using our online booking system.

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