You’ve known now for many years that smoking is bad for your health. It even warns you directly on the box of cigarettes. One of the often-overlooked side effects of smoking is hearing loss. The chemicals produced by smoking a cigarette inhibit your inner ear’s ability to transmit vibrations. The more you smoke the more irreversible damage will be done. Second-hand smoke has the same effect on your family and friends.
A study in 2010 found that moderate to high alcohol intake results in brain damage that keeps the brain from being able to interpret and process sounds. The trouble is even worse for folks with alcoholism; the central auditory cortex will become damaged, which may lead to brain shrinkage (that’s never good). Damage to the inner ear known as ototoxicity, is also possible for excessive drinkers. High levels of alcohol in the bloodstream create a toxic environment, which damages the hair cells in the cochlea. Those hair cells transmit each sound you hear to your brain within milliseconds.
Being overweight puts you at risk for a barrage of problems ranging from diabetes to circulatory trouble, to straining your heart, all of which have been linked to hearing loss. Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital published a study in 2013 that found women with a higher body mass index had a 17 % higher risk of hearing loss. The study also found that simple physical activity, such as walking for 2 or more hours a week lowered that risk of hearing loss. So you can see the large impact your diet has on your overall health.
You may not immediately think your teeth and hearing health are connected, but they certainly are. Poor dental health allows harmful bacteria to enter the bloodstream, narrowing and blocking arteries that lead to the brain. This can interrupt the way the brain receives signals from the auditory nerve. Bad oral hygiene can also lead to heart disease, heart attack, stroke and diabetes, which have been linked to hearing loss.
An annual physical can detect hearing loss, but more importantly the doctor will be able to tell you if your hearing loss is caused by something other than age. An obstruction, such as earwax buildup, inflammation or tumor can be addressed and possibly get you hearing again or stop further damage. Doctors are able to refer you to an Audiologist or an Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor, who specialize in dealing with hearing loss.