No one wants hearing loss. Most obvious statement ever, right? In order to protect yourself against developing hearing loss, your Cedar Park audiologist recommends understanding the causes.
The Three Types of Hearing Loss
Conductive hearing loss occurs when there are problems with the ear canal, eardrum or middle ear. This type of hearing loss is caused by:
- Structural deformities
- Fluid in the middle ear
- Ear infection
- Impacted earwax
- Perforated eardrum
- Foreign objects in the ear
- Benign tumors.
Sensorineural hearing loss is often referred to as nerve deafness and involves problems with the inner ear. Causes of hearing loss like this include:
- Noise exposure
- Autoimmune disorders
- Meniere’s disease
- Malformations of the inner ear and tumors.
Mixed Hearing Loss is just what it sounds like, a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss. Someone with this type if hearing loss will have a problem with their inner ear as well as a problem with their middle or outer ear.
Now that we know what can cause hearing loss, we can review that ways you can protect yourself.
Protect Yourself from Loud Noises
The most common type of hearing loss is also the most preventable. Noise-induced hearing loss can be prevented by following these tips:
- Wear hearing protection when exposed to loud noise. Earplugs are a must in noisy environments such as rock concerts and sporting events. They should also be worn when riding a motorcycle or snowmobile, mowing the lawn, using power tools, etc. If your job exposes you to loud noise, your employer is required by OSHA to supply hearing protection.
- Turn down the volume. When listening to music or watching television, keep the volume low.
- Limit the number of noisy appliances running at the same time.
- Buy quieter products. Many appliances list dB ratings in their specifications.
Protect Yourself from Diseases
Some diseases can be the cause of hearing loss. Viruses such as measles, mumps, whooping cough and rubella might damage your hearing; bacterial diseases such as meningitis and syphilis can also lead to hearing damage. A tumor on the hearing nerve, called an acoustic neuroma, may also contribute to hearing loss. While it is unlikely you will be able to prevent ever contacting a disease, below are a few tips to make it less likely:
- Make sure your child is vaccinated. Immunizations offer protection from many childhood infections that can cause hearing damage.
- If you are sexually active, use protection to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, some of which can cause hearing loss.
- If you fall ill, don’t delay seeking medical attention.
Protection from Ototoxic Drugs
Some drugs currently on the market can damage the sensory cells responsible for hearing. These include certain antibiotics, chemotherapy drugs, salicylate pain relievers (e.g., aspirin), quinine (for treating malaria) and diuretics. Your Cedar Park audiologist recommends following these tips:
- Take medications only as directed.
- If you experience symptoms of hearing loss such as tinnitus while taking new drugs, see your doctor immediately.
Preventing Ear Injuries
Head trauma, which is common when playing contact sports or if you are in a car accident, can damage the temporal bones in the lower lateral walls of the skull; this usually will lead to hearing loss. Follow the below precautions to help prevent this type of injury:
- Wear a seat belt at all times when in a car.
- Wear a helmet when riding a bike or motorcycle, and participating in contact sports.
- Don’t take unnecessary risks, such as standing on the top rung of a ladder.
Your Cedar Park audiologist recommends a few additional general tips:
- Do not insert anything into your ear, including a cotton swab. This can cause impacted earwax, a perforated eardrum or damage to the skin.
- Use swim plugs when participating in water activities. They will help keep your ear dry while swimming or bathing, which can prevent infections.
While some causes of hearing loss, like aging, are outside of your control, many can be prevented if you follow the precautions outlines above. For more information, contact your Cedar Park audiologist today.