Five Risk Factors for Hearing Loss

When we think about people with hearing loss, we often think of two groups – older adults and people who have been exposed to very loud and damaging sounds. What often gets overlooked is the effect overall health can have on hearing in the general population. Here are five factors that we know can impact your hearing health:

  1. Diabetes: The vascular problems that can happen with diabetes can have an impact on the part of your ear needed to sense incoming sounds, called your inner ear. Reduced blood flow to your inner ear can increase your risk of permanent hearing loss.
  2. Heart Disease: Not only can reduced blood flow from heart disease affect your hearing on its own, but it can worsen the damaging effect that noise can have on your hearing as well.
  3. Stress: When we’re stressed, our ability to concentrate can be greatly affected. This means that for someone with a hearing loss, the added effort needed to follow a conversation combined with poor concentration can mean complete communication breakdown.
  4. Antibiotics: Certain types of antibiotics, called aminoglycosides, can cause hearing loss as a side effect. If your doctor has prescribed these for you, an audiologist can monitor your hearing to determine if any damage has occurred.
  5. Obesity: There is no hard and fast rule that hearing loss and weight gain go hand in hand, but some studies have shown that people with a higher body-mass-index are at a greater risk of having difficulty hearing. Like diabetes and heart disease, researchers think this is because increased weight could reduce blood flow to your ears.