Individuals with hearing loss in Charleston are most likely to blame age or noise exposure for their condition.
While these are the most common causes, they aren’t the only ones that can cause hearing loss.
Unexpected Causes of Hearing Loss
According to your Charleston audiologist, the following conditions and habits can lead to hearing loss over time:
- Sleep Apnea.
Individuals with sleep apnea – a sleep disorder characterized by chronic snoring and repeated pauses in breathing that can last for ten seconds or more – are prone to a number of serious health complications including heart disease, stroke and diabetes. A lesser-known side effect is hearing loss. Though the reason isn’t entirely clear, experts believe low oxygen levels cause a reduction in blood supply to the inner ear, permanently damaging the tiny hair cells responsible for hearing. Additionally, loud snoring over time can also cause damage.
- Excess alcohol consumption.
Sometimes there’s nothing better than a cold beer on a hot day, but when one turns into six you are putting your health at risk. Excess drinking increases your risk of developing heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke. Your hearing can also suffer; heavy alcohol consumption can damage the central auditory cortex, making your brain work harder and longer to process sound. It can also affect your ability to hear low-frequency sounds and can disrupt equilibrium when alcohol is absorbed into the fluid of the inner ear.
- Iron deficiency.
University of Pennsylvania researchers found a relationship between iron-deficient anemia and hearing loss after studying the medical records of more than 305,000 adults. These individuals are twice as likely to develop hearing loss than those without the blood disorder. This doesn’t prove conclusively that iron deficiency causes hearing loss, but it’s clear the mineral is important in providing a healthy blood supply to the tiny hair cells of the inner ear that are responsible for processing sound.
There has been a lot of news lately about a nationwide increase in the number of mumps cases. Once a common childhood disease, mumps was all but eliminated with the introduction of a vaccine, but a misguided anti-vaccination movement has led to a jump in the number of people affected in recent years. This puts them at risk for a host of medical problems, including hearing loss; the highly contagious viral disease can permanently damage the cochlea, causing hearing loss. While only 1-4 percent of people who are infected suffer hearing impairment, health experts recommend immunizing all children against the disease beginning at around 12-15 months of age. Measles, also on the upswing, can cause similar hearing damage.
We all experience occasional stress in our lives; when it becomes chronic, the risk of health problems increases. Hearing loss is one possible side effect of long-term stress, which diverts oxygen to muscles in order to allow you to react more quickly to potential danger. This lack of oxygen in other key areas, including the blood supply to the inner ears, can lead to permanently impaired hearing.
An increasing number of people, many of them young, are turning to vaping as an alternative to cigarette smoking. Many e-cigarettes contain a mixture of nicotine, propylene glycol, glycerin and flavorings. Nicotine is a proven health hazard that restricts blood flow to every part of the body, including the inner ear, cutting off the supply to the delicate hair cells responsible for processing sound. Propylene glycol can also cause harm; this alcohol-based solvent has been shown to damage hearing when used topically.
- Erectile dysfunction drugs.
Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs help many men in the bedroom, but that little blue pill comes with some health dangers, as well. Those who take Viagra and other PDE-5 inhibitors (found in Cialis, Levitra and other popular ED drugs) are twice as likely to have hearing loss than men who don’t take the drugs and may develop sudden hearing loss, impairment that comes on quickly with little or no warning. Make sure you understand the side effects of ED and other “ototoxic” drugs; there are more than 200 medications that can cause temporary or permanent damage to the ears.
While these causes of hearing loss are considerably rarer than others, keep them in mind if any apply to you.
If you would like to schedule a hearing evaluation – always a good idea, especially once you reach age 50 – contact a Charleston audiologist.
Related Hearing Loss Posts:
- The Link Between Hearing Loss & Osteoporosis in Charleston
- Helpful Hearing Apps for Smartphone Users
- Tinnitus: What to Know About That Ringing in Your Ears
Other Charleston Audiologists Office Locations
537 Folly Rd
Charleston, SC 29412
180 Wingo Way, Suite 103
Mt Pleasant, SC 29464