Are you sabotaging your hearing with the things you do each day? Not all hearing issues are caused by poor habits, but there are steps you can take to protect the mechanisms that allow you to hear from wear and tear. Don’t take your ear health for granted. Consider how your lifestyle choices affect your hearing and make changes to preserve this delicate network.
Exposure to loud noises via headphones or earbuds is one of the top culprits. Loud noises, especially with daily contact, may damage the tiny hair cells in the inner ear responsible for converting sound waves to something your brain can interpret. Wearing headphones or earbuds exposes the ear mechanisms to very loud noise that causes this type damage, so limit the amount of time you spend wearing them.
No Ear Protection on the Job
Not all headphones are created equally, though. Some are designed to protect the ears from external loud noises that cause damage. People who work in an industry prone to loud noise need to protect their ears. For example, professional musicians often use ear protection during a show to decrease the volume of the music. Other industries that require ear protection include:
Lack of Exercise
Obesity is a growing public health concern in this country, putting people at risk for chronic conditions such as diabetes and heart disease. Both of these problems affect the circulatory system and blood flow, which can in turn damage your hearing. Manage your weight and get regular exercise to lower your risk of chronic disease.
Smoking affects your health in many ways, including your ability to hear as you grow older. One burning cigarette exposes you to more than 7,000 chemicals, according to the American Lung Association. Some of them are capable of damaging the tiny mechanisms of the ear or the nerves that interpret sound.
Ignoring Signs of Infection
Chronic ear infections break down the bones and hair cells that make hearing possible. Failing to get treatment or not following the doctor’s instructions can mean repeated infections that take their toll on your ears. Most infections are bacterial, so even though the symptoms go away and you feel better, the infection may still be active deep in your ear. Over time, the bacteria will destroy the middle and inner ear and put you at risk for potentially life-threatening conditions like a brain abscess.
There is some indication that a lifetime of drinking will interfere with your brain’s ability to interpret sounds. One glass of wine a day isn’t enough to cause damage, but if you are a binge drinker or indulge in three or four glasses every day, the alcohol can affect your brain. Over time, the changes in the brain may cause damage to the inner ear, as well.
Poor Dental Hygiene
Bad teeth and unhealthy gums have a bigger overall effect on the body then you might realize. Oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream and lead to heart problems. A heart condition means poor circulation and that affects every system including hearing.
Your hearing is meant to last a lifetime, but what you do from day to day can may cost you later.