Earlier this month was World Hearing Day, and it's time to start raising awareness on proper hearing care as well as hearing loss prevention.
Having a hearing condition does not only set you back socially, it can also take a toll on your financial situation too. Not only would you need to spend money on hearing aids and checkups, you might also find yourself having trouble concentrating at work and communicating with your workmates.
Most cases of hearing loss can be prevented. While your risk of having a hearing condition is increased as you grow old or if you're constantly exposed to loud music and noise, there are other rarer and relatively uncommon causes that you should need to know about so that you can further lower your risk. Here are some of them:
High Blood Pressure
A study made by Indian scientists showed a very definite correlation between having hypertension and hearing loss. More than half of test subjects with grade 3 hypertension were shown to have mild hearing loss. Though the specifics are unclear, it is thought that high blood pressure accelerates the kind of hearing loss that is normally associated with old age.
Smoking is bad for your lungs; it has been scientifically proven to increase one's chances for lung cancer and respiratory problems. But did you know that this damaging habit can also affect your hearing too? Cigarette smoke contains a lot of harmful chemicals, most of which have the potential to permanently damage your ears. Nicotine, for example. shrinks blood vessels in your ears, which would then affect blood flow in the inner ear canal. Less blood flow causes the cochlea to suffocate, thus resulting to muffled hearing. Another chemical called cotinine is also thought to cause middle ear problems in some smokers.
Certain medication (both over-the-counter and prescription medicines) can have an adverse effect on your hearing. Ibuprofen and aspirin are known to contain ototoxic chemicals, which, if taken in large doses, can reduce blood flow to the cochlea. The risk for hearing loss is further increased if you take these drugs for more than two days a week.
Another drug, Viagra (used by people with erectile dysfunction problems) can also be harmful. While ibuprofen and aspirin reduces blood flow to the ear, Viagra can INCREASE it. This sudden increase of blood flow can damage sensitive tissues inside the ear, leading to impaired hearing.
Cancer treatments often involve ingesting platinum-based drugs like cisplatin. As a study by the Oregon Health and Science University has shown, these types of drugs can cause hearing loss in more than sixty percent of all patients who ingest them. There's also the fact that chemotherapy is essentially destroying cells in the body, which can include some of the cells in the ear.
It's pretty uncommon to have measles outbreaks nowadays (since most people are vaccinated for it), but if you ever manage to get the disease, the accompanying ear infection can cause hearing loss that would be difficult to reverse. Another disease associated with measles called rubella can make children, even those still in their mother's wombs, deaf.