Do you sometimes find it difficult to follow conversations in noisy places? Or perhaps you’ve begun to constantly turn up the volume on your TV or phone. These changes may be due to disease or trauma, but they are sometimes caused by temporary health events that are easily solvable – such as earwax build up!
In this guide, we’ll look at some key causes of hearing difficulties and we’ll offer practical tips to regain your hearing health. Let’s get started!
A Build-Up of Earwax
A build-up of earwax in your ear canal could be causing your hearing difficulties. This typically happens when wax is pushed back towards the eardrum, blocking the vibrations that allow you to hear. If left unresolved, excessive wax can lead to temporary hearing loss or even an infection due to its bacteria-trapping properties.
- Fix It: In most cases, earwax buildup can be easily fixed. If the impacted earwax is in its early stages, professional tools such as wush ear cleaner can help. Alternatively, your audiologist will be able to use specialized techniques to clean your ear.
Long-Term Exposure to Loud Noise
One major factor that can lead to hearing difficulties is long-term exposure to loud noises. Working in an environment with constant noise, such as a construction site, or attending too many rock concerts without proper ear protection, can significantly increase your risk of developing noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).
- Fix It: To reduce the risk of NIHL, always use ear protection like earplugs or earmuffs in noisy environments, limit the volume on personal audio devices, and ensure regular breaks from sustained loud noise.
Ear Infections or Injuries
Ear infections or diseases can significantly impact your hearing ability. For instance, conditions like otitis media create pain and inflammation in the middle ear, obstructing sound waves and damaging the hair cells that allow you to hear. Even after recovery, these illnesses may lead to serious hearing deficiencies if not properly addressed.
- Fix It: Regular visits to an ear specialist for prompt diagnosis and effective treatment are essential.
As we grow older, our bodies naturally experience changes, and this includes our ears. Age-related hearing loss, known medically as presbycusis, is a common issue for many. This kind of hearing loss occurs gradually over time and is often characterized by difficulty in understanding speech rather than the inability to hear sounds.
- Fix It: To minimize the effects of aging on hearing, maintaining a healthy lifestyle which includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, and avoiding exposure to loud noises can be beneficial.
Certain medications can be a source of your hearing problems. Medications that have this side effect are known as ototoxic, and they can have a short-term or long-term impact on your hearing health. Drugs that are known to potentially affect auditory function include certain antibiotics, NSAIDs, and high-dose aspirin.
- Fix It: If you’re currently on any medication, you may want to consult your doctor about their potential side effects on hearing. You may also consider switching to a different therapeutic plan to regain your hearing function.
Substance Abuse and Smoking
Substance abuse, including the misuse of drugs and alcohol, can lead to hearing difficulties. For example, opioid usage has been connected with auditory processing problems in some users. Similarly, tobacco smokers are at a higher risk of developing trouble with hearing. This is because consistent smoking degrades the delicate internal structures of the ears over time.
- Fix It: To safeguard your hearing, consider seeking help for substance addiction and aim to quit smoking. This not only aids in improving overall health but also reduces the risk of associated hearing problems.
Chronic Diseases (i.e.: Diabetes and Obesity)
Chronic diseases like diabetes and obesity can seriously impact your hearing health. For example, high blood sugar levels prevalent in diabetes might damage the blood vessels and nerves in your ear, affecting auditory processing.
In the case of obesity, the excess weight can increase pressures on structures within the ears contributing to hearing loss. It also increases the risk of other diseases (such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease) which, in turn, add to the risk of hearing loss.
- Fix It: Implementing a healthy lifestyle is one way to prevent hearing loss linked to chronic diseases. This includes regular exercise, a balanced diet, and maintaining an appropriate weight, all of which help control diabetes and obesity. If you suspect that you have a specific chronic condition like diabetes, be sure to seek an accurate diagnosis without delay.
Seek an Accurate Diagnosis
Working closely with an audiologist can be a pivotal step in counteracting your hearing difficulties. This professional will not only diagnose your condition accurately but also offer targeted treatments and advice to reduce risk factors. So, alleviate your worries today by transforming the health of your hearing with this important partnership.
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I'm Alice and I live with a dizzying assortment of invisible disabilities, including ADHD and fibromyalgia. I write to raise awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental and chronic illnesses of all kinds.