5 unexpected causes of hearing loss
You might recognise the following: Age, exposure to loud noise and earwax build up as the most common known cause of hearing loss. However hearing loss can also occur in some unexpected ways. Here are five you might not suspect
- Diabetes and Hearing Loss
- Antibiotics and Hearing loss
- Obesity and Hearing loss
- Heart disease and hearing loss
- Stress and hearing loss
Lets look at these in more detail and what we know as fact.
- If you have diabetes you are twice as likely to develop a hearing loss. And those with pre diabetics the rate of hearing loss is 30 percent higher than normal.
- Did you know previously that many common antibiotics can also cause hearing loss. Antibiotics are life saving medications however some are ototoxic. Ototoxic means the drug may be toxic to the inner ear. These antibiotics, the aminoglycosides are restricted to life threatening situations such as major bacterial infections.
- What has weight have to do with hearing loss? A lot, it turns out. A study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston looked at more than 68,000 women; from 1989 to 2009, their physical activity, body mass index, waist circumference and hearing loss were monitored. The results of the study showed that the risk of hearing loss increased as BMI and waist circumference increased. Researchers are looking into the correlation, and think it might be because the extra weight puts a strain on the capillaries that are responsible for transporting oxygen to the cells. That includes the delicate hair cells that facilitate hearing; those cells don’t receive as much oxygen, so they begin to die.
- There is an important connection between hearing and cardiovascular health, to the point where researchers think hearing loss could be an early indicator of heart disease. A healthy cardiovascular system means adequate blood flow to the inner ear, which leads to better hearing health. On the other hand, inadequate blood flow and trauma to the blood vessels of the inner ear can contribute to hearing loss.
The Laryngoscope even published a study that showed a strong correlation between audiogram patterns and cerebrovascular and peripheral arterial disease, indicating that an audiogram could serve as a screening tool for those potentially at risk for a cardiovascular incident.
- It is well known that stress can lead to poor health, and now we know that hearing can be affected as well. As a matter of fact, the International Journal of Tinnitus published the results of a study that discovered a connection between stress and sudden hearing loss. It’s a vicious cycle; stress leads to physical problems like high blood pressure and heart disease, which affect blood flow to the inner ear. And the hearing loss itself then leads to even further stress.
Good sleep habits, a healthy diet and an exercise program can help to minimize stress, in addition to lowering blood pressure and improving the cardiovascular system.
This article was first published at hearingcareprofessionals.com.au. Nolene Nielson is an experienced Brisbane Audiologist whose independent audiology practice is part of a new direction in hearing health care services.