Hearing loss can be caused by a series of factors, including age, heredity, viral infections, and prolonged exposure to loud environments. If you want to learn more about the causes, as well as how to efficiently treat the symptoms of hearing difficulties before it’s too late, you can check it out in the following article.
Music, surrounding sounds, and voices are all part of ourselves, and help us develop through the years. A certain song can bring back powerful memories, while the voice of our dearest ones helps us calm down, and battle anxiety or stressful situations. So, how can we possibly imagine a world without any sounds, kind voices, and our favorite songs?
Unfortunately, hearing loss can occur in all life stages, forcing us to rethink our entire existence and cope with this as good as we can. Although there is little we can do about it, seeing a doctor from the first symptoms can dramatically improve the situation in the long term.
Here are some of the most common and uncommon causes of hearing loss, and how to recognize the symptoms from the earliest stages.
After the age of 50-60 years, the body will start producing less collagen and assimilate vitamins and nutrients slower, which will lead to bone and teeth problems, joint pains, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as macular degeneration.
The most common form of hearing loss, also known as presbycusis, is another negative effect of aging. The gradual loss of hearing is a direct result of the body’s natural aging process, which affects all the cells and organs.
Presbycusis is permanent and usually makes it harder for people to hear high-frequency sounds such as the ringing of a phone, bird chirping or the voices of children.
There are various symptoms that can indicate age-related hearing loss, including the sensation of hearing what somebody is saying but not fully understanding. Some sounds may appear as too loud or annoying, while you may also experience more frequent episodes of tinnitus or the uncomfortable ringing in the ears.
Although symptoms will only get worse as you age, you can opt for a hearing device that will help you adjust the intensity of the surrounding sounds, so that you can still hear and understand. Those who suffer from more severe hearing deficiencies can choose cochlear implants or learn the American Sign Language as a last resort.
Excessive noise exposure
People who are exposed to constant loud noises or those who work in loud environments such as constructions, the sound industry or factories will also experience hearing loss deficiencies after a while. Symptoms will be similar but most often will start with ringing ears and the inability of understanding what someone is saying.
In order to prevent hearing loss while working in a loud and noisy environment, you must wear protective headphones at all times. These will absorb loud noises and will add comfort to your ears. Giving your ears some rest at the end of a stressful day is also necessary, so try to avoid listening to loud music or TV after your working hours are over.
Unfortunately, some viral infections can also cause permanent damage to your ears. Although measles and mumps are mainly considered childhood illnesses, they can appear in various forms during adult life as well.
Measles is caused by the rubeola virus and used to be one of the most dangerous and life-threatening infections before the invention of vaccines. Although it was kept under control throughout the world, the new wave of anti-vaxxers caused rubeola to spread again. Measles is an acute viral illness that can even lead to death in the most complicated scenarios.
Vaccines are the easiest way to prevent most of these childhood-specific diseases and infections or at least develop lighter, non-threatening forms.
Mumps is another viral illness that starts with flu-like symptoms, before resulting in painful swelling of the salivary glands. Similar to many childhood viral illnesses, mumps should also develop in a light form that lasts between 7 and 10 days. However, even with vaccines, there is still a risk of severe complications that can lead to meningitis and death.
Superficially treated mumps can also cause permanent ear damage and diabetes, and this is why it is extremely important to consult a doctor the minute you notice any of the symptoms.
Certain drugs and medications can cause damage to the inner ear, leading to temporary or permanent effects that can include hearing loss and tinnitus. Viagra, various chemotherapy drugs or antibiotic gentamicin are amongst the most dangerous drugs but temporary hearing loss can also occur if you take high doses of pain relievers, loop diuretics or aspirin.
Heredity plays a crucial role in the way people handle diseases and illnesses throughout the year. Your genetic makeup may make you more susceptible to hearing loss caused by aging or prolonged exposure to loud sounds.
If any of your close family members suffer from hearing loss or developed ear problems during their lives, you might want to reconsider certain aspects of your life. Pay more attention to your health and visit your doctor regularly.
Don’t forget to always wear protective earphones when performing loud activities and stay away from noisy environments as much as possible. You should also be careful whenever taking medications and avoid concerts or high-noise activities like carpentry, snowmobiling or motorcycling.
For how long can you be safely exposed to loud noises?
Loud sounds cannot always be avoided, especially if you live an active lifestyle or work in certain environments. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the safe noise level shouldn’t exceed 70 decibels.
By comparison, whispering is considered to be 30 decibels, while a normal conversation is usually around 60 decibels. A dishwasher is known to be as loud as 75 decibels, while heavy city traffic or school cafeterias often enough exceed 80-85 decibels. Riding a snowmobile or operating a chainsaw is credited at 100-110 decibels, while the ambulance siren exceeds 120 decibels when running.
Safe exposure to loud noises that exceed 90 decibels shouldn’t last more than 8 hours a day, while loud environments with around 100 decibels of noise should be left after 2 hours.
Based on the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, people who work in loud environments with noises often reaching 110-115 decibels should wear audio protective gear after 15-30 minutes to avoid hearing problems in the future.
Hearing loss can have a dramatic impact on the quality of life, no matter the age. Seniors with hearing problems may report episodes of anxiety and signs of depression. Hearing loss makes conversation difficult, if not impossible in some environments, which often leads to isolation.
For children and young adults, it is even more difficult to integrate, as they rarely get to live normal lives and have normal jobs. Moreover, children and youngsters with hearing problems will also experience signs of depression and isolation, as it will be nearly impossible for them to find a partner or a friend.
Most hearing problems can be avoided or eliminated if you look after the health of your ears properly. As we previously mentioned, although some loud noises cannot be entirely avoided, you should diminish exposure to them as much as you can.
If you work in a noisy environment or often deal with loud sounds, the best way to protect your ears is to invest in some plastic earplugs or glycerin-filled earmuffs. Headphones are also recommended, especially because they also work as a protection against cold temperatures during the winter.
Another way to look after your ears is to have regular hearing tests and see a doctor whenever something feels off. It is always better to prevent than to treat, so make sure you talk to a specialist at least once a year.
You can also limit or avoid altogether certain recreational activities that have a negative impact on your ears, such as hunting, using power tools, riding a snowmobile or a motorcycle or listening to loud music for hours in a row. And, if you plan on going to a concert anytime soon, make sure to stay away from the sound system.