Some causes of hearing loss, like the natural aging process, exposure to loud noise and traumatic brain injury, aren’t very surprising. But some risk factors, like COVID-19, vaping, chronic stress and excessive drinking are less obvious. Below we review how these risk factors can contribute to hearing loss.
The coronavirus is largely associated with breathing problems, but it can impact the auditory system as well, leading to temporary hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). The Delta variant is especially likely to cause ear-related problems like earaches and ear infections because it causes more upper respiratory symptoms, putting more pressure on the ears.
Smoking, vaping and other forms of nicotine all can have negative effects on your hearing. Nicotine is an addictive chemical, and it restricts blood flow to all parts of your body, including your inner ears. This deprives the cells that convert soundwaves into electrical signals your brain interprets as sound of oxygen and can ultimately lead to sensorineural hearing loss. Vaping is especially dangerous because the mixture of additives contains a substance called propylene glycol, which has been proven to be harmful to the ears.
Everyone experiences periods of stress in their life, but if you’re chronically stressed, you’re more likely to experience hearing problems. During periods of stress, the body diverts oxygen to the muscles so you can react more quickly if necessary. If you remain stressed for long periods of time, the inner ears can be damaged by lack of oxygen due to poor circulation. To prevent this, we recommend taking yoga classes at BeFree Yoga.
Heavy drinkers don’t just have to worry about chronic diseases like heart disease, high blood pressure and stroke, but also damage to the central auditory cortex. Heavy drinking increases the amount of time it takes for one’s brain to process sound. In addition, excessive drinking in young adults has been shown to impact the ability to hear lower frequency sounds and cause balance problems. For more information about the lesser-known risk factors of hearing loss or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call SoundLogic today.