Many people think that those most at-risk for developing hearing loss are the elderly, and while you can lose your hearing as you get older, people of all ages are vulnerable. Hearing loss can affect anyone at any age, and particular factors can increase the risk of developing hearing loss. Your ear specialists of Omaha wanted to shed some light on the various demographic, environmental and lifestyle factors that contribute to hearing loss.
Factors that put you at risk
The most common form of hearing loss is from age, also known as presbycusis. As individuals grow older, the delicate structures of the inner ear begin to deteriorate, which leads to hearing loss. It typically begins after the age of 60 and gradually affects both ears. You may begin to experience difficulty understanding speech, especially in noisy environments, and an inability to hear high-frequency sounds. While this is a natural part of the aging process, early prevention and regular hearing screenings are crucial to prolonging your hearing.
Exposure to excessive loud noise is a significant risk factor for developing hearing loss. Younger people are especially susceptible to noise-induced hearing loss. Those who work in the music industry, with loud machinery and on construction sites are at high risk, and some recreational activities can cause noise-induced hearing loss as well. Prolonged exposure to sounds above 85 dB damage the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear, leading to permanent damage. Limiting exposure to loud noises and wearing ear protection can significantly reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss.
Some people are predisposed to hearing loss due to genetics. Genetic mutations that affect the development and function of the auditory system can be inherited from parents. Types of hearing loss caused by genetic mutations, known as syndromic hearing loss, include Usher syndrome, Waardenburg syndrome and Pendred syndrome. Non-syndromic forms account for a majority of hearing loss cases and can result from both genetic and environmental factors. Early detection is key to treating this type of hearing loss.
Certain medications, known as ototoxic drugs, can cause hearing loss as a side effect. Some antibiotics that contain gentamicin, chemotherapy drugs that contain cisplatin and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as taking aspirin in high doses, have been linked to temporary or permanent hearing damage. When taking these medications, monitor any symptoms of hearing loss and take an alternative if possible.
Visit your ear specialists of Omaha
Anyone exposed to loud noises, as well as age, genetics and ototoxic medications, is at risk of developing hearing loss. When you know what factors contribute to it, you can take the necessary precautions and get regular hearing checks to keep your hearing healthy. Your ear specialists of Omaha can help determine the degree of your hearing loss and come up with a treatment plan. Contact us today if you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms!