WHAT ARE MY HEARING LOSS RISK FACTORS?

What are the risk factors for developing hearing loss? 

A risk factor is something that increases your odds of developing an ailment, issue or illness.

There are a few risk factors that commonly contribute to hearing loss, but there are other less common ones as well. The more of these risk factors you have the better your chances of developing hearing loss. Decreasing the risk factors will also decrease the likelihood you will suffer from hearing loss. 

Hearing Loss Risk Factors

Low Birth Weight

Premature birth and low birth weight are risk factors for hearing damage. Additionally, complications at birth like asphyxia and jaundice may increase the risk of hearing loss later in life. 

Genetic Conditions

Usher Syndrome, Otosclerosis and other genetic abnormalities can increase the risk for hearing loss. Also, conditions that change the structure or shape of the head and face are also risk factors.

Getting Older

Living our lives always results in some weathering of our whole bodies, including our ears. Age-related hearing damage (presbycusis) can be hereditary and progresses gradually. 

Noise 

Exposure to loud noise is the most common risk factor for hearing loss. It may be from a longer, repeated exposure over time (such as in a factory) or a short burst of very loud noise (like a gunshot). To prevent noise-related hearing loss, remember to bring ear protection like earplugs to lessen any injury. If you know you will repeatedly be exposed to loud noise, consider investing in custom ear plugs. 

Ototoxicity

Some medications, including NSAID drugs, certain types of antibiotics and chemotherapy can damage hearing temporarily or permanently. For example, high doses of aspirin can cause ringing in the ears or even temporary hearing damage in some people. When these medications are stopped the symptoms most often wane. Chemicals in agricultural or factory settings may also be ototoxic (causing hearing damage). Ototoxic chemicals can also be found in cigarettes. 

Diseases and Illnesses

Health issues like Meniere’s disease can affect inner ear fluid and lead to hearing damage. Tumors, vascular disease, diabetes and autoimmune disorders may similarly affect hearing health. Injury to the head or other trauma can also cause hearing loss. 

Medical Treatments

Aside from antibiotic medications and chemotherapy, radiation therapy can weaken hearing health, specifically when the radiation is focused in proximity to ears. 

The likelihood for hearing loss can increase with exposure to any of these influences, but it does not guarantee it. This is not an all-inclusive list, and if you try to decrease the known risk factors of hearing damage, you will be considerably less likely to develop hearing loss. 

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening. We can discuss hearing aid options with you and work with you to find one that fits your budget. 

HOW DO MEDICATIONS AFFECT HEARING HEALTH?

Have you heard of ototoxicity?
Ototoxicity is a term used by health professionals for medications that can cause hearing loss. Both prescription and over-the-counter medications can be ototoxic.

Though these drugs may be effective for treating specific conditions and illnesses, they can also cause damage to delicate inner-ear hair cells and may affect balance and hearing.

Ototoxicity can affect people temporarily or permanently–so it is important to know how it is caused and how to prevent it or stop it.

Because drugs can accumulate in the body, the effects can be cumulative over time and get worse as the chemicals build up in the cells.

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association has found that there are currently more than two hundred medications and chemicals that can cause both balance disorders and hearing loss. If you are taking any of these types of drugs, speak with your physician about the implications for your hearing.

Pain Relievers

NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as acetaminophen, aspirin and other over-the-counter medicines can be effective to reduce inflammation and ease pain. Studies have shown, however, that regular use of these drugs can cause hearing loss. Even a daily aspirin recommended by your doctor may have hearing loss effects.

Diuretics

Diuretics are prescribed to alleviate many conditions, such as high blood pressure, glaucoma, edema and other issues. These medicines can also cause temporary tinnitus and hearing loss, however, though we don’t fully understand why.

Antibiotics

Antibiotics can be used as life-saving medicines, and are important for serious bacterial infections. One classification of antibiotics, aminogycosides, have hearing loss as a side effect. This type of antibiotic is often treated as a last-resort medication when other antibiotics do not work for serious infections.

Chemotherapy Drugs

A platinum-based chemotherapy called Cisplatin is frequently used to treat metastatic testicular, ovarian and bladder cancers. Side effects reported for this drug range from vertigo to tinnitus as well as permanent or temporary hearing loss. A strong correlation has been found between platinum-based chemotherapy treatments and hearing loss, and researchers are looking for ways to alleviate this side effect.

What Can You Do?

You may need to take one of these medications for a serious issue, so the risks and benefits must be weighed. It is important to understand the risks and side effects of medications (even over-the-counter medications) however, so you can recognize these risks if they appear.

Medications affect different people differently, so stay attuned to your hearing and if the medications you are taking are affecting you, and approach your physician with any concerns.

Often if a medication begins to cause issues with hearing or balance, stopping those symptoms can be as simple as not taking that medication. If pro-active steps are taken, permanent damage can often be avoided.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.