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Hearing loss is incredibly common, particularly among older people. Most people who are fortunate enough to exceed the age of 70 will incur some kind of age-related hearing loss, and many others also experience noise-related hearing loss. Although we know a lot about how these two types of hearing loss occur, they are not alone among the many causes of hearing loss.
Other types of hearing loss come from injury or damage to the outer or middle ear. Even in these cases, it is easy to imagine how hearing is damaged through direct impact, and we can picture the causal process of hearing damage.
However, what about the very rare forms of hearing loss? Beyond these intuitive forms, there are many other ways to experience hearing loss, and some of them might surprise you. Let’s consider a few of the stranger risks of hearing loss, as well as what you can do to protect yourself.
Hypertension and Diabetes
How could these conditions be related to hearing loss? Although these seemingly unrelated health conditions don’t seem to have anything to do with hearing loss, they demonstrate a strong statistical relationship. One possibility some researchers suggest is that these conditions lead to depleted or deoxygenated blood that is transported to the ears. When the bloodstream cannot offer the resources needed, the tiny hairlike cells of the inner ear may incur damage leading to hearing loss.
Measles, Shingles, and other Diseases
Although these diseases are increasingly rare, they also demonstrate a statistical relationship with hearing loss. In these cases, some researchers are curious about an autoimmune relationship that might cause dual damage. More research is necessary to understand the connection, but it seems that those who have these diseases also have higher rates of hearing loss than the general population.
These life saving devices can be the vital barrier between you and the hard surfaces of a car. Although this safety feature is a crucial feature of transportation design, they can also cause noise that is loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage. In addition to the possibility of injury, these devices emit a very loud noise when they are deployed, and when experienced in combination with the loud noise of a crash, they can lead to serious hearing loss, as well.
Another life-saving process can lead to hearing loss: chemotherapy. We know that this form of cancer treatment is essential to extending life and even causing remission of the cancerous cells. Yet, did you know that hearing loss can be a side effect of the treatment? This connection between chemical treatment and hearing loss is referred to as ototoxicity. Just like other ototoxic chemicals and medications, chemotherapy can do permanent damage to the sensitive cells of the inner ear.
As opposed to these lifesaving measures, hearing loss is among the many negative health effects of smoking. Added to the list of heart disease, lung cancer, and other critical health concerns, smoking has also shown a high correlation with hearing loss. Some imagine that the limited oxygen in the lungs translates to low oxygen levels in the blood, not unlike the hypothesis in cases of hypertension and heart disease itself. If you are a smoker, the potential of hearing loss is yet another reason to pursue smoking cessation.
Hearing Loss Prevention
In addition to these strange causes of hearing loss, there is one cause of hearing loss that is easier to prevent: noise exposure. Wearing hearing protection in loud places is a good way to protect your hearing further into the future. Even wearing disposable, foam earplugs can be sufficient to reduce the decibel level of sound to a level that is not damaging, and more advanced hearing protection is available in the form of custom-molded protection.
Limiting the use of headphones and earbuds is another crucial protective measure, particularly because it is so easy to use these devices at too loud a level for too long a time. If you find yourself watching a movie with headphones on or listening to an audiobook through earbuds, make sure the volume is at a reasonably low level. With these practices in place, you can take preventative measures for the more common forms of hearing loss.