Hearing loss has always been viewed as a problem common among the elderly and people with a track record of working in noisy industrial settings. This assumption may have held some truth in the past, but more recently, the situation has changed. The hearing-impaired crowd is getting younger, the causes of hearing loss are easy to pinpoint, and, unfortunately, many people seek medical attention only when the quality of their hearing has deteriorated quite a bit. Hearing loss is not something young people get checked for regularly, like they do with their dental appointments and eye exams. The problem is, it’s easier to spot a slight change in the quality of your vision—for example, during your morning drive to work, you may notice that you can’t read the name of the street as you approach an intersection, even though you could see it clearly last year—but gradual deterioration of hearing is much more subtle and way less obvious.
Yes, adding those hearing tests to your list of annual medical check-ups is definitely a good idea. It will give you a peace of mind when things are good, and if something is wrong, your doctor will spot it early. (And as you know, the earlier the problem is detected, the easier it is to resolve.) But how can you minimize the risks of losing your hearing? By being aware of factors that can damage your ears. The following threats are part of our everyday living, yet they spell danger when it comes to hearing health.
Poor circulation: Health conditions that affect your circulation, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, are common risk factors for cardiovascular events, but they pose a threat to your ears too. Hair cells in your ears send information about what you’re hearing to your brain via minute vibrations. And as any other type of cell in the body, those hair cells need adequate nourishment delivered through a healthy blood flow. When that blood flow is interrupted, hair cells can’t grow and function normally, resulting in hearing problems. Take care of your health, and talk to your doctor about possible complications associated with health conditions that you have. (Amazing miracle molecule helps double blood circulation.)
Blow dryers: According to the National Institutes of Health, if blow drying is part of your routine every morning, your hearing may be in danger, as that hairdryer could be producing over 85 decibels of noise. Of course, a two-minute blow-dry won’t make you deaf, but prolonged use of a hairdryer over years can add up to serious damage. Solution? Alternate blow drying with air drying, and use the device for shorter periods of time.
Prescriptions: Some medications cite impaired hearing as one of their possible side effects. In particular, high doses of chemotherapy drugs, antibiotics of the –mycin family, and certain diuretics prescribed for heart disease may put your ears in danger. If you’re on any of these meds, don’t jump to conclusions and don’t interrupt your treatment plan. The best thing to do is talk to your doctor about your risk and ways to minimize it.
Public transit: Public transportation can get pretty noisy, and when you spend hours on the bus or train, the chronic noise exposure may hurt your ears. And the sirens of fire trucks passing by are not good for your hearing either. No, don’t get off at the next stop—but don’t feel embarrassed to cover your ears if that kneeling bus beeping is too much for you to take.
Fitness classes: Music is a great motivator and energy boost when you’re working out, but if your ears are buzzing after a fitness class, this means the music was too loud. If you’re unsure, you can download an app measuring sound levels around you and check during your next session. You may want to consider ear plugs to protect your ears from all that excessive noise at the gym.
Kitchen appliances: Mixers, blenders, smoothie makers, and coffee grinders can be pretty noisy and traumatic to your ears. Once in a while it’s not a big deal, but if you’re using them regularly you may want to follow suit of professional chefs and invest in some ear protection.
Being aware of the possible dangers is the first step towards good health and safe conduct. Don’t feel like you need to abandon your lifestyle and your appliances—but keeping in mind what may hurt your ears will help you protect them better.
Related: 7 strange causes of hearing loss