Hearing is one of the senses people often take for granted until they start to lose it. There are the assumptions that hearing loss only comes at birth or with old age. While genetics and age are legitimate reasons for hearing impairment, they are not the only ones.
Changes in hearing may be temporary or permanent. Quick treatment is a must to recover as much hearing as possible. That’s why it’s crucial to schedule a hearing test as soon as possible. Here are five causes of hearing loss many people don’t recognize.
1. Cotton Swabs
The shape and size of cotton swabs look for removing earwax. However, doctors advise against sticking these tools in your ear canal. Cotton swabs are a leading cause of hearing loss.
Cotton swabs don’t really clear out earwax. Instead, they push the sticky substance deeper into the canal. Eardrum punctures are common. When this happens, people experience sharp pain followed by hearing loss.
Earwax lubricates the ear and protects it from dust, dirt, bacteria, and other germs. Usually, any extra earwax drains out of the canal and washes away. However, some people produce too much. Excessive earwax can harden and can cause hearing loss.
Removing the blockage is the only way to treat this type of hearing loss. But as previously mentioned, never use cotton swabs to clean the ear canal. Instead, visit an audiologist for professional earwax removal.
Besides causing lung cancer and hypertension, smoking can also lead to hearing impairments. Smokers are 70 percent more likely to develop hearing loss than nonsmokers. Even adolescents exposed to second-hand smoke are at an increased risk.
Although smoking doesn’t affect the ears directly, it harms other body parts. Injury to the eustachian tube, neurotransmitters, and central nervous system impact a person’s ability to hear. What’s the solution? Anyone who smokes should talk to their doctor about finding an effective way to quit.
Viruses are a cause of acquired hearing loss. In recent years, patients reported sudden onset hearing loss following active COVID-19 infection. Other viruses may also contribute to auditory impairments. Examples include rubella, cytomegalovirus, and the common cold.
In many instances, patients regain their hearing after the virus clears. However, rubella and mumps infections often cause permanent deficits. Luckily, most people can improve their symptoms with hearing aids, cochlear implants, and other auditory devices.
5. Certain Medications
All medications come with a risk of side effects, ranging from minor to severe. The FDA will still approve a drug if they believe the benefits outweigh these risks. Hearing loss is one of many side effects of certain medications.
What drugs cause hearing impairment? Ototoxic medications are at the top of the list. These drugs include antibiotics, chemotherapies, antimalarials, diuretics, and over-the-counter NSAIDs. Patients taking these treatments should immediately report any changes in their hearing, such as ringing or buzzing, to their doctors.
Recognize the Signs of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be sudden or gradual. Most patients notice subtle changes to their hearing over weeks, months, or even years. Common signs include a clogged sensation, muffled sounds, and tinnitus. A complete examination is critical, no matter how minor the symptoms may seem.
People are born with two ears. Protect them at all costs. These lesser-known causes of hearing loss only make up a fraction of cases. Remember to schedule regular physicals and hearing tests to keep your ears healthy.