We all have bad habits. While some damage your bank account, others damage your hearing. Below are five habits that could lead to hearing loss that you should kick to the curb.
Nicotine restricts blood flow to the ears, which can damage the delicate cells responsible for converting soundwaves into electrical energy that the brain interprets as meaningful sound. The more you smoke, the greater your risk for developing hearing loss. Not only does tobacco smoke harm you, it can affect those you love the most. Studies have shown that adolescents exposed to secondhand smoke are twice as likely to experience low-frequency hearing loss than those with no exposure.
While vaping may have been marketed as a safer alternative to tobacco, this is not the case. E-cigarettes containing nicotine have the same impact on your auditory system as traditional cigarettes. In addition, the flavored fluids in vapes, called “e-juices,” contain hundreds of chemicals with unknown side effects. One such chemical, propylene glycol, has been linked to sudden hearing loss.
Poor Dental Hygiene
Sometimes when you’re overly tired, you may skip out on tooth-brushing before bed. But regularly foregoing your twice-daily brushing, once-daily flossing and twice-annual professional cleanings can have serious consequences aside from cavities. When bacteria caused by gum disease enters the blood stream, it causes inflammation and narrowing of the arteries, sometimes leading to hearing loss.
In addition to being bad news for your liver, heavy drinking can impact your hearing. Studies have shown that alcohol can interfere with the brain’s ability to interpret low-frequency sounds, and that it may shrink the central auditory cortex, meaning the nerve responsible for interpreting sound is damaged. In addition, alcohol creates a toxic environment within the inner ear, causing permanent damage to the hair cells within the cochlea.
Ignoring Hearing Loss
Ignoring hearing loss doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. While the average person waits about seven years to seek treatment for their hearing loss, this typically yields worse outcomes than those who seek treatment early. Just like your muscles, your brain atrophies when not exercised, meaning the longer you put off treatment, the longer it will take for your brain to re-learn how to interpret meaningful sounds while filtering out ambient ones.
For more information about the causes of hearing loss or to schedule a hearing test, call the experts at Arizona Desert ENT Specialists today.