We wear sunscreen to protect our skin from harsh UV rays. We keep our bodies healthy by steering clear of junk food. But what are we doing for our ears?
Hearing loss isn’t just reserved for the elderly, nor is it the result of a single loud “explosive” sound. Instead, the most common cause of hearing damage is gradual exposure to common risks, like sounds or medicine, over extended periods of time.
Regardless of whether you live in a big city or a rural neighborhood, whether you work in a library or in a woodshop, no one is immune to the everyday things that may eventually result in hearing loss. Here’s what to look out for:
1. Your Music: No, you don’t have to frequent rock concerts to have hearing loss from music. Instead, people’s hearing is“deteriorating at a rate never seen before” thanks to the headphones we plug directly into our ear canals. Largely affecting the younger generation, ear buds have resulted in almost 46% of teenagers reporting some sort of ringing, roaring, or buzzing in their ears – a potential signal of future hearing loss.
2. Your Pets (or your neighbor’s): According to window soundproofing company CitiQuiet, a yappy dog can be a powerful source of hearing loss. In fact, one corgi-mutt’s bark can be over 100 decibels — the same dangerous volume as an underground subway. Anything over 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing loss.
3. Your Cellphone: According to a recent study, people who talk on their phones for more than 60 minutes a day have poorer hearing than those who use their phones less. Apparently, long-term cell phone usage can cause inner ear damage resulting in the loss of high-frequency sounds, such as a high-pitched child’s voice.
4. Hairdryer : In addition to drying out your hair, a hairdryer could have serious risks to your hearing health. Particularly if you’re using a hairdryer every day, make sure to choose a low-decibel hair dryer (try Sharper Image’s version) and use its lowest/quietest speed setting.
5. Ibuprofen: This one might surprise you: according to the American Journal of Advanced Epidemiology, 11% of women who took Ibuprofen two or more days a week experienced some degree of hearing loss. This may be because Ibuprofen can decrease blood flow to the ear.
6. Toys: Here’s a good reason not to get that squeaky plush toy for your pet: noise-making toys can affect your hearing. Same goes for if you live with young siblings and/or spend a lot of time around children. Some children’s toys have noise levels of150 decibels – just 30 levels behind firecrackers.
7. Smoking: In addition to an increased risk of lung cancer, the Journal of American Medical Association reports that heavy smokers were 15% more likely to develop hearing loss than non-smokers. Researchers are unsure whether smoking affects hearing directly, or whether it’s a secondary effect of cardiovascular disease.
8. Lack of Sleep: Various studies suggest that lack of sleep leads to altered brain activity – which, in turn, might result in high frequency hearing loss, also lack of sleep affects your weight. In fact, people with sleep apnea had a 31% increased risk of hearing impairment, according to Dr. Amit Cophra.