Approximately 48 million Americans suffer from hearing loss – a condition that has been associated with anxiety, depression and even cognitive decline. While not all cases of hearing loss are preventable, there are ways to reduce your risk of developing the disorder. Below are five habits to kick to promote better hearing health.
Smoking is linked to a long list of negative health conditions, and hearing loss is one of them. Nicotine restricts blood flow to the ears, which damages the stereocilia – tiny hair cells responsible for converting soundwaves into electrical energy that is interpreted by the brain as sound.
Not only can smoking damage your hearing, secondhand smoke can damage the hearing of those you love. Studies have shown that adolescents exposed to secondhand smoke are twice as likely to develop low-frequency hearing loss as those with no exposure.
Vaping and e-cigarettes that contain tobacco have the same effect as smoking cigarettes. In addition, the flavored fluids, “e-juices,” contain hundreds of chemicals with unknown health effects. Proplene glycol, for example, has been linked to sudden hearing loss.
Studies show that alcohol can interfere with the with the brain’s ability to interpret sound, particularly low-frequency sounds. Alcohol creates a toxic environment in the inner ear and damages the stereocilia. Studies have also shown that the central auditory cortex in the brain may even shrink within people who drink excessively.
Poor Dental Health
When bacteria from the mouth enters the bloodstream, it causes inflammation and narrowing of the arteries. Poor circulation and hearing loss have been heavily linked in a number of studies. Conversely, when you keep your teeth clean and your mouth healthy, this bacteria doesn’t have the environment to grow, keeping your arteries and your hearing healthy.
Ignoring the Problem
The average person waits seven years to seek treatment for their hearing loss. Unfortunately, the longer you go without treatment, the more difficult it is for your brain to become re-acquainted with everyday sounds and the longer it takes for you to learn how to filter ambient noise from important speech sounds. Early signs of hearing loss include asking people to repeat themselves, turning up the TV much louder than others need it and having difficulty talking on the phone. If you’re exhibiting these symptoms, don’t delay – schedule an appointment for a hearing test.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the experts at Heuser Hearing Institute today.