Hearing loss is one of the most common physical health conditions in the U.S. Approximately one out of every five people in Burbank experiences hearing loss to some degree. Most of us are probably aware of the most common causes of hearing loss – but there are others that might surprise you.
Aging and Noise: The Most Common Causes of Hearing Loss
The top causes of hearing loss in Burbank are natural aging and noise exposure. By the age of 65, one-third of all Californians experiences hearing loss; at age 75, that number climbs to one-half. A lifetime of noise exposure takes its toll, gradually destroying the tiny hair cells in the cochlea responsible for hearing. High frequencies are affected first; as hearing loss progresses, it becomes increasingly difficult to follow conversations, especially when background noise is present.
Noise exposure can cause hearing loss at any age. Sounds exceeding 85 decibels can cause permanent hearing damage; the louder the sound, the quicker hearing loss develops. A single loud gunshot, for instance, can cause immediate, irreversible damage. Most adolescents and young adults with hearing loss can blame it on noise.
Other Factors That Contribute to Hearing Loss
Individuals in Burbank are at risk of developing hearing loss from other factors, as well. These include:
- Medical conditions. Certain physical health conditions are associated with a higher incidence of hearing loss. Diabetes, for example, doubles your risk of hearing loss, and people with high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels and high fever are more likely to suffer from impaired hearing as a result of restricted blood and oxygen flow to the ear, which can permanently damage the hearing nerves.
- Everyday sounds. Your daily environment is full of potential risk from things you might not even give a second thought. Noisy traffic, with idling engines, horns and sirens, is a constant if you live or work near a busy street. Commuters who use public transportation to get to work must also deal with excessive noise from buses, trains and subways. Even household appliances can cause harm. Hair dryers, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, garbage disposals and washers/dryers can all be surprisingly noisy. When shopping for appliances, look for decibel ratings of 85 dB or lower – information that should be available in the product manual or website.
- Music. Obviously, concerts are noisy – but you’re probably more likely to put your hearing at risk when listening to music through headphones or earbuds. To preserve your hearing, set the volume to no more than 60 percent of maximum and take frequent breaks to give your ears a rest. Consider investing in noise-cancelling headphones, which block external noise, so you won’t have to turn up the volume in order to hear your favorite jams. Fitness classes such as spinning and aerobics are often accompanied by loud music; toss a pair of earplugs into your gym bag to prevent damage to your ears.
- Health treatments. Treating a health condition may cause serious side effects like hearing loss. More than 200 medications have been shown to harm your ears, including many commonly-prescribed diuretics, antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs. Even over-the-counter pain relievers such as aspirin and ibuprofen can cause damage at high doses. If you’re displaying signs of hearing loss after taking a new medication, let your doctor know; alternative, less-risky drugs may be available. Other health problems such as ear infections, excess earwax and balance disorders can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss. Seek medical treatment at the first sign of trouble.