5 Surprising Causes of Hearing Loss

side of mans head and ear

Most people don’t think about the health of their hearing until something goes wrong; even small amounts of hearing loss can lead to inconvenience and stress. Depending on the severity of your hearing loss, you might be offered a hearing device, but lifestyle changes can be effective. 

Effective lifestyle changes can improve your health and wellbeing and restore mild hearing difficulties, especially in the case of hearing issues caused by alcohol, smoking, iron deficiencies and sleep apnea. These are some of the less well-known causes of hearing loss.    

In this article, we take a closer look at these less well-known causes to inform you of the risks and help you take action if you think you might be affected. Remember, if you experience symptoms of hearing loss, it’s always best to contact a hearing instrument specialist to learn more about the condition. 

Alcohol Consumption 

Whether it’s a drink with dinner or a glass of wine in celebration, most people are well aware of the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption. However, few people know that it can have a detrimental effect on your hearing as well. Excessive alcohol consumption can damage hearing, but even small amounts have an effect.

Alcohol has a disorienting effect on the brain in many ways, but one area it affects in relation to your hearing is the central auditory cortex, an area of the brain responsible for localizing and discriminating sounds. Damage to this area can result in low-frequency hearing difficulties. 

Sleep Apnea 

Sleep apnea is a common condition that might seem to affect other people more than yourself; that’s because sleep apnea happens during the night. Sleep apnea is characterized by breathing issues when sleeping; people tend to stop breathing for a long period and then restart. 

The reason that sleep apnea can have a detrimental effect on your hearing is due to improper blood flow to the hearing system. If you have a delicate hearing system, reduced blood flow can result in hearing difficulties throughout the day and longer-term issues: including hearing loss.  

Chronic Stress 

Nobody likes the feeling of being stressed, and for those who experience chronic stress, life can be tough. Chronic stress is usually diagnosed by a medical professional, and it is characterized by consistent stress patterns that interfere with your daily life or mental and emotional wellbeing.

However, chronic stress can also cause hearing issues, particularly in people who have a delicate hearing system. In order for the body to function under stress, it redirects resources to support a fight or flight response, meaning there is less blood in the ears, causing cell damage.   

Iron Deficiencies 

Anemia is a condition in which there is not enough iron in the blood. Iron is a mineral found in red blood cells; it is crucial for the transportation of oxygen from the lungs to various parts of the body, including the hearing system. That’s iron deficiencies can cause some hearing difficulties.  

While it is not exactly clear why iron deficiencies affect the hearing system in this way – research is still ongoing – chances are that blood with less oxygen doesn’t supply enough nutrients to the inner ear, especially to the hair cells called cilia that send sounds to the brain for processing.   

Vaping and Smoking 

Everybody knows about the dangers of smoking tobacco. There are around 7,000 chemicals in the average cigarette that restrict the flow of oxygen in the blood, cause cellular damage and block arteries. Of course, smoking also impacts the hearing system and causes hearing loss.  

Nowadays, people who like to smoke are turning to vaping as a healthier alternative, and while vapes might contain fewer harmful chemicals, they are still harmful and contain elements that can damage your hearing. Vapes contain Propylene Glycol linked to hearing issues in studies.   

Some of the main causes of hearing loss include cell deterioration due to old age, wax buildup in the inner ear, damage to cilia and exposure to loud noises in the case of tinnitus. However, there might be more to your hearing loss than meets the eye; there are some surprising causes. 

In addition to the main causes of hearing loss, there are many contributing factors, such as the ones described in the article. Unlikely causes such as sleep apnea and iron deficiencies are easy to overlook – even for a hearing professional – so make sure you know some less common causes. 

If you experience hearing loss and you have some of the symptoms or lifestyle habits listed above, it’s a good idea to discuss these with a hearing instrument specialist. The team at Hearing Well Matters is well-versed in providing you with the testing and treatment options you need to combat hearing loss. Just give us a call at (647) 247-2704 to schedule your first appointment!