Hearing loss is common in Houston, Texas and throughout the country. It can be caused by any number of conditions. There are three types of hearing loss, which help to categorize the causes.
Conductive hearing loss occurs when there are problems with the ear canal, eardrum or middle ear. This type of hearing loss may be 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 involves problems with the inner ear and is sometimes referred to as “nerve deafness.” Causes include:
- Noise exposure
- Autoimmune disorders
- Meniere’s disease
- Malformations of the inner ear and tumors
Mixed Hearing Loss is a combination of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss and affects both the inner ear and middle or outer ear.
Alright, so there are a lot of things out there that can cause hearing loss. Fear not; there are a few things you can do to try to prevent hearing loss.
Protecting Your Hearing from Loud Noise
Noise-induced hearing loss is the most common cause of hearing loss in the U.S. Fortunately for you, it is easily preventable. Your Houston audiologist recommends following these tips to protect your hearing:
- 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.
Preventing Hearing Loss from Diseases
Some diseases can cause hearing loss. Viruses that might damage hearing include measles, mumps, whooping cough and rubella. Bacterialdiseases such as meningitis and syphilis can also lead to hearing damage. Acoustic neuroma (tumors on the hearing nerve) may contribute to hearing loss. While you cannot protect yourself from all potential diseases, below are a few tips to make contraction 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.
- Don’t delay seeking medical attention should you fall ill.
Protection from Ototoxic Drugs
Some drugs cause damage to 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 Houston audiologist confirmed that you can reduce your odds of hearing loss when taking medications if you follow 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 can damage the temporal bones in the lower lateral walls of the skull, leading 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.
Other general tips include:
- Not inserting foreign objects in the ears. This can lead to impacted earwax, a perforated eardrum or damage to the skin.
- Use swim plugs when participating in water activities. They help keep your ear dry while swimming or bathing.
We all get older, but we don’t all have to lose our hearing. Contact your Houston audiologist for more information on how to protect your hearing.