You have likely heard about the danger of listening to music at a loud volume on your personal music player, or not wearing proper ear protection at a loud concert. But there are a few other– perhaps less obvious–habits that can take a toll on your hearing health. Here are some things that not only pose a risk to your general well-being, but also the health of your ears.
1) Drinking to excess
While drinking moderate amounts of alcohol (a glass of wine with dinner, for example) doesn’t present a health risk for most people, studies show that over-indulging, especially for an extended period of time, can interfere with one’s ability to hear properly. Alcohol not only disrupts the functioning of the liver but also creates a damaging environment in the inner ear, lowering the ability to hear in the lower frequencies. Drinking may also hinder the brain’s ability to interpret sound, as well as damage the hair cells of the cochlea, which are vital to hearing. Studies have even revealed that the central auditory cortex of the brain may shrink in people who drink to excess. If you want to protect your ears, moderation is key.
2) Smoking–the enemy of the inner ear
If you need another reason to quit smoking, besides its damaging effects on the heart and lungs, here it is: the chemicals produced by smoking cigarettes interfere with the ability of the inner ear to transmit vibrations, causing hearing loss. Heavy smokers are more at risk for hearing damage, and this includes their loved ones as well. The hearing health risks associated with secondhand smoke have been proven–studies found that young people exposed to secondhand smoke were almost twice as likely to have hearing loss in the low-frequency range, compared with those who had no exposure to smoke.
3) Obesity and complications
While obesity is not a habit, it is included in this list because it does present a few health problems, particularly in terms of the circulatory system. People who are very overweight experience more issues with their heart health and circulation, as well as being at a higher risk for diabetes. But how does this affect the ears? The inner ear depends on good blood flow to stay healthy, and a weakened circulatory system can be detrimental to the structures of the ear that are essential for hearing. Diabetes can restrict blood flow and even destroy small blood vessels, which can also have a negative effect on the inner ear. Exercise is great for maintaining good circulation, and can help with diabetes symptoms and keep your ears in good shape.
4) Not going in for a yearly check-up
If you are someone who hasn’t had a physical in five years (or you can’t remember the last time you had one), you might consider going, if only for the sake of your ears. Most people develop some age-related hearing loss, and getting it diagnosed and treated early can help preserve the hearing you have and prevent your hearing loss from negatively impacting your life and health in other ways. An annual check-up can also help you find out if your hearing loss (if you have any) is related to age, noise, or an obstruction or infection in the inner ear that can be treated to help restore your hearing.
5) Avoiding the dentist
Your teeth and ears–how are they related? It seems that good dental hygiene affects the body positively in a number of ways, one of which is protecting the hearing. Healthy teeth and gums are free of the bacteria that can lead to swelling and infections. When these bacteria enter the bloodstream, it can lead to inflammation and reduced circulation, which has a negative effect on your hearing health. So, brush, floss, and make that dental appointment you’ve been putting off. Your ears will thank you.
The ability to hear and experience the world through sound is a precious sense that you can protect by taking care of your general health and cutting out harmful habits. If you think you might already have hearing loss, a hearing exam is the first step, so make an appointment with us at Lifestyle Hearing Solutions today.
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