For appointments or questions call (540) 283-6000.

Sound Advice: Causes of Hearing Loss and Tips for Prevention

If you think hearing loss can’t happen to you, consider this: it’s affecting the lives of more than 60 million Americans right now.

And whether it’s partial hearing loss or more severe, its causes aren’t always apparent. Factors like genetics, age, allergies, infections, and even your job can contribute to hearing loss, and it occurs much easier than you might think.

The good news is that you can take steps today to protect your hearing against the most common external factors. The following are some of the main players in why we lose our hearing — and how you can take steps to avoid premature loss.

Age

Your ears are full of small hair-like cells that die off as you age. Unfortunately, they can’t be replaced, and this is a natural part of the human aging process. What you can do is protect your hearing now, by reducing external noise (i.e.: lower volume on those headphones) and using earplugs if you’re at a loud concert. If you work in the construction or industrial industry, use earplugs or muffs to protect against the heavy sounds of machinery.

Genetics

Genes…everyone has them, for better or worse. They determine everything about you, from the color of your eyes to the shape of your pinky toes. That said, if your mother, father or grandparents use hearing aids, there’s an increased likelihood that you eventually will, too.

But don’t despair — as mentioned above, taking good care of your ears will ensure that you’re protected from the outside factors that can prematurely take away from your ability to hear well.

Infection

Cold season isn’t the only time we’re susceptible to inner-ear infections. The fluid that results can cause partial and/or temporary hearing loss in adults. In fact, it’s these type of infections that cause many babies to be born with hearing loss; an infection or disease that occurred while the child was in the womb. Toxoplasmosis, measles, and herpes are three of the most common culprits.

Q-tips

You’ve heard it before — don’t use them. And we agree. But is it really important?

Well, only if you value your hearing. The eardrum is much closer to the outside of the ear than you think, and individuals often end up puncturing them because they don’t realize this. Wax is in your ears for several reasons: a) it acts as a waterproofing agent, to prevent issues like swimmer’s ear, and b) it serves as a natural antibiotic. Getting rid of it is counterproductive!

The best case scenario: frequent Q-tip use leads to wax impaction, which can be taken care of with a trip to your PCP. The worst case scenario? Your eardrum is punctured, which requires surgery and can result in permanent profound hearing loss, or total deafness.

All in all, if you’re kind to your ears, you have a much better chance of hearing your favorite tunes for much longer. If you have further questions or are concerned about your hearing, our audiologists can help. Contact us at 540-283-6000, or view our audiology services and provider information here.