We all pick up some bad habits through the years – like biting our nails, going to sleep without washing our face, or indulging in junk food a little too often. Some bad habits have a greater impact than others. The bad habits listed below can damage your hearing health, which is a lot more serious than having short, bitten-down fingernails.
Here are five bad habits that could harm your hearing health:
We’ll start with the habit that is perhaps most common, yet most damaging. Many people go years without seeking treatment after first suspecting that they are experiencing hearing loss. Going without treatment for hearing loss can do more than contribute to poor communication; untreated hearing loss has been linked to several serious health conditions, including cognitive decline and dementia.
Smoking has been scientifically connected to several serious health problems, but did you know that it can also harm your hearing? The nicotine restricts blood flow to the ears, which can potentially damage delicate ear cells. The news only gets worse from there – even secondhand smoke can harm your hearing health. Studies have shown that adolescents exposed to secondhand smoke are twice as likely to experience low-frequency hearing loss than those who are not exposed.
Just as with regular cigarettes, e-cigarettes pose a threat to your hearing health. The nicotine content has a similar negative effect on the ear cells as with smoking. E-juices, or the flavored chemicals used in e-cigarettes, are also full of hundreds of chemicals. Most of these chemicals have not been studied enough for us to understand the health risks posed. However, at least one of these chemicals, propylene glycol, has been linked to sudden hearing loss.
Excessive drinking attacks your hearing from two sides: your brain and your ears. It is suspected that alcohol can interfere with the brain’s ability to interpret sound, especially low-frequency sounds. Research indicates that excessive drinking can also cause the central auditory cortex in the brain to shrink, which negatively impacts the nerve responsible for processing sound.
In the ears themselves, alcohol can create a toxic environment in the inner ear. This can damage the hair cells of the cochlea, leading to hearing loss.
This one might seem odd at first, but when we neglect one part of our bodies, it always affects another. When your teeth and gums are neglected and unhealthy, the oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream. From there, the bacteria cause inflammation and narrowing of the arteries, and poor circulation can damage your hearing health.
Of course, it is never too late to turn the tide on these bad habits and start implementing better habits that will protect your hearing health. If you would like more information about how to protect your hearing, or if you suspect you may be suffering from hearing loss, we welcome you to contact our audiology office today. We look forward to hearing from you!