During normal hearing, sound waves go into the outer ear. Afterwards, they move from the inner ear to the fluid-filled cochlea. The fluid moves the waves, making thousands of tiny hairs form nerve impulses from sound vibrations. These impulses go into the brain to process the sound that you recognise.
Any issue that affects the ear structures that process sound leads to hearing loss. This is divided into conductive hearing loss, sensorineural hearing loss, and mixed hearing loss. Conductive hearing loss happens when you have an obstruction in the middle ear that limits sound from passing.
Sensorineural hearing loss results from damage or deterioration of the brain’s central processing centres, cranial nerves, or inner ear. Mixed hearing loss is when you suffer from the causes of conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
Let’s look at some of the daily habits to avoid that may cause hearing loss.
Ignoring the need for medical attention
Ear infections may cause excessive fluid in the middle ear, leading to temporary or mild hearing loss. If you ignore seeking medical attention, the infection may become severe, leading to long-term hearing loss.
The same condition may also happen if you get an object in your ear that blocks hearing. The ears have wax to prevent bacteria or foreign objects from entering the ear canal. However, this wax may build up and harden inside the ear and block your ability to hear.
You must visit a doctor immediately if you notice excess fluid in the ears or get a foreign object inside the ear. This will save you from eventual loss of hearing.
Not using a listening device
As noted above, you should visit your doctor immediately if you experience any ear issues. If you begin asking people to repeat whatever they say or complaining that people are mumbling, the doctor may recommend a hearing aid.
You have to use the listening device throughout the day, except when in the shower or sleeping. Not using the aid will limit your hearing capacity. When using the listening device for the first time, your brain takes some time to become familiar with the new sounds it hears, including your voice.
However, patience is key to loving your new hearing device as it will boost your overall well-being.
Using headphone excessively
You can use headphones today to play your favourite music on the go without disturbing anyone. Other people use headphones in music studios and during video editing. And headphones today are convenient because they are available in wireless or Bluetooth options.
According to the World Health Organization, over one billion people aged between 12 to 35 years are at risk of hearing loss from exposure to loud music while using headphones. Prolonged exposure may lead to permanent hearing loss. You can fix this by turning down the volume and going to the doctor often for check-ups.
Excessive Use of Earbuds
Earbuds are tiny speakers for wearing inside the ears. People love these devices because they have power that allows use for a long time. Earbuds are wireless and allow for picking up or making calls and listening to music. These features make them convenient and popular today.
Unfortunately, earbuds have a greater risk of causing hearing loss than headphones. These devices sit inside the ear close to the ear canal to increase the natural volume by about 9 decibels.
The earbuds may introduce bacteria into your ears if you don’t clean them well regularly. Since they sit inside the ear, they block the air passage, allowing bacteria to thrive. This encourages the bacteria to move into the inner parts of the ear.
Furthermore, earbuds are likely to compress your earwax if you use them excessively. This encourages the wax to harden, limiting its natural expulsion. In the long run, you’re likely to suffer from inflammation and hearing loss.
Sharon A. Sandridge, PhD, an audiologist, recommends balancing how long you use the earbuds and the volume. Keep the volume low when using the earbuds for more than 90 minutes.
Vaping is a popular substitute for smoking. However, vape juice contains nicotine just like cigarettes. This chemical limits oxygen in the bloodstream, leading to a simultaneous reduction of blood flow to the ears.
Additionally, some e-cigarette liquids contain unregulated flavours that may affect your hearing over time. Propylene glycol is common in e-cigarettes, yet it is harmful to the inner ear. Vaping is most popular among young people because of its alluring marketing and fancy names.
Unfortunately, the mechanisms in the hearing nerves of young adults are not fully developed. This makes them more susceptible to hearing loss. Seek medical assistance immediately if you notice trouble hearing.
Excessive Exposure to Loud Noise
There is a correlation between being around loud noises and developing tinnitus.
People who have this illness report hearing a sound that is similar to ringing in their ears.
This may occur at some point in the future or remain consistent.
Tinnitus patients are unable to hear other sounds that are in the same frequency range as the ringing in their ears.
Tinnitus disrupts daily activities as well as your ability to get to sleep and stay asleep.
A single episode of loud exposure can be enough to cause immediate hearing loss.
Alternately, you can have symptoms over the course of many years before your hearing function begins to deteriorate.
After removing yourself from the noisy setting, it’s possible that your hearing will return to normal within a few days.
Drinking Too Much
Consuming excess alcohol impairs vision, causes nausea and hangovers. It also affects hearing in various ways that you may not be aware of. Your sense of hearing has a close link to brain health, yet alcohol negatively affects brain function.
Alcohol damages the brain function responsible for processing sound. When drunk, you hear sounds but can’t comprehend them. You may also have trouble distinguishing sounds in a noisy environment.
Finally, alcohol causes blood vessels to expand by increasing blood flow into the inner ear.
This causes a ringing sound to be heard, which may linger for several hours.
Hearing is harmed by the ringing, which makes rehabilitation from alcoholism difficult.
To protect your ears from such problems, limit your alcohol consumption.
The ears have fluid that maintains balance. Excessive drinking makes it become absorbed into this fluid in the ear. The alcohol may remain there even after leaving the brain and blood. The composition of alcohol in the ear fluid encourages temporary loss hearing ability. It’s also likely to make you spatially disoriented and dizzy.
Lastly, alcohol encourages swelling of the blood vessels by increasing blood flow into the inner ear. This makes you hear a ringing sound, which may last for some hours. The ringing impairs hearing and makes recovery from alcoholism frustrating. Manage your alcohol intake to protect your ears from such issues.
These are some of the everyday habits that may appear normal but are actually contributing to or encouraging hearing loss.
When you have a problem with your ear, you should see your doctor right away.
The doctor will diagnose the problem and suggest the best course of action, which may include the use of hearing products.