Did you know that hearing loss is the third most common physical condition in the United States? Around 20 percent of Americans are currently living with some type of hearing loss. While most people are aware of the most common hearing loss causes such as aging, loud work environments, and concerts, there are some lesser-known, avoidable threats that might be impacting your hearing health. Here are 7 surprising hearing loss causes and ways to combat them:
1. Restaurants and Bars
Restaurants and bars seem to be getting louder and louder. Even with great food, drinks and service, excessive noise levels can take the enjoyment out of dining in a restaurant or grabbing drinks with friends. In fact, Consumer Reports and Zagat report that noise is the top complaint that diners have over service, prices, and cleanliness.
Loud restaurants aren’t just annoying, they’re one of the major hearing loss causes. The decibel levels of many dining spots and bars reach above 80 decibels, which can cause hearing loss if you are exposed for an extended period.
While you can’t change the music level or acoustics of a restaurant, you can protect your hearing by wearing earplugs, requesting to sit in a quieter area (if there is one), or choosing a different establishment to dine.
2. Medications and Pain Relievers
More than 200 drugs, ranging from over-the-counter medications to chemotherapy, can be hearing loss causes, according to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Ototoxic drugs (like diuretics, treatments for heart disease and some antibiotics) are potential hearing loss causes. They can also create tinnitus (ringing in the ear) and balance disorders.
But it’s not just prescription drugs. Over-the-counter pain relievers like aspirin and ibuprofen can also cause hearing loss when used regularly.
The risk of hearing loss is more serious for those taking higher doses of medications. That said, it’s important to talk to your doctor about potential side effects whenever you’re prescribed a new drug. If you notice a change in your hearing while taking the medication, make sure to let your doctor know right away.
Hearing loss is twice as common in adults with diabetes than those with normal blood sugar levels, and 30 percent higher for people with prediabetes. While more research is needed, it’s suspected that the high blood glucose levels cause damage to the blood vessels and nerves in the ear, potentially making it one of the hearing loss causes.
To combat diabetes’ influence on hearing, make sure to maintain a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and have your hearing checked annually.
4. Working Out
Music is a great energizer to power you through a morning run or an exercise class, but it can pose a risk to your hearing. Listening to music with earbuds is one of the more particularly deceptive hearing loss causes — they sit deeper in your ear canal and don’t block outside noise as well, so you’re more tempted to crank the volume up. You’re also more likely to push the ear buds in deeper during exercise so that they don’t shift as you move.
Although ASHA recommends listening to music at 85 decibels or less, our devices can top 100 decibels, which can cause damage in only 15 minutes.
A good rule of thumb is to keep the volume at or below 60 percent and give your ears a break periodically. If you notice buzzing in your ears following a workout, you should lower the volume next time or consider investing in noise-cancelling headphones.
Public transportation by itself can also be extremely noisy, not to mention the wailing sirens going by the bus stop. Commuting on noisy buses, trains, or subways for extended periods of time can add up and eventually be harmful to your ears.
Like during your workouts, using earbuds while commuting can be dangerous to your hearing. Turning up the volume in your ears to drown out the noise of public transportation can because one of your hearing loss causes in just one day’s commute.
Try being more cognizant of your devices’ volume while commuting, and take breaks from listening.
6. Household Tools and Appliances
Did you know that potential hearing damage could even be lurking in your own home? Household tools and equipment like lawn mowers, drills, and other power tools can produce over 100 decibels of noise. Using tools like these for just 10 to 15 minutes without hearing protection can cause permanent hearing loss.
But even everyday indoor household appliances can be hearing loss causes. Blenders, coffee grinders, and hair dryers can reach over 85 decibels, putting you at risk of hearing loss over time.
While you don’t need to worry about an occasional smoothie, daily use of loud appliances combined with other noise can add up. That means chefs, baristas, hairdressers, or other careers exposed to this noise for longer periods of time should also consider hearing protection.
Okay, so this one isn’t surprising. But it is important! While age-related hearing loss is one of the most common types of hearing loss, fewer than one in five people actually address it. Because the loss can be so gradual, it can be easy for some to not notice, or worse, ignore age-related hearing loss.
When hearing loss goes untreated, less and less sound information is transmitted to the brain, and eventually your brain can even lose its ability to process and understand sounds at all. While a hearing aid can’t restore the loss, it can help keep the brain active and protect the hearing that you still have.
Remember, once your hearing is gone, it’s gone for good. It’s important to have your hearing checked at least once every three years (or sooner if you notice a problem). If you determine a hearing aid is needed, MDHearing offers a line of affordable hearing solutions that come with a 45-day risk-free trial and 100% money-back guarantee.
Do you need hearing aids? MDHearing is here to help.
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