HearCare RI - 6 Habits That May be Harming Your Hearing

6 Habits That May be Harming Your Hearing

In Communication, Community, Family and Relationships, hearing loss, News, Prevention by Laurie Duffy, M.S.

Laurie Duffy, M.S.

When it comes to understanding hearing damage, most people know that they should protect their hearing in when loud environments. While that’s certainly true, many things that harm our hearing go unrecognized – so oftentimes people don’t even realize their hearing could be impacted. Here are 6 common behaviors that can result in permanent hearing damage.

Habit #1: Using a Hair Dryer

Fortunately for everyone, stylish hair doesn’t cause hearing loss – but frequent use of loud hair drying equipment doesn’t do your hearing any favors. Even the quietest hair dryers can blow loud noise and particles into our ear canal. If you use a hair dryer regularly, make sure to always point it away from your ear. It also helps to use lower, quieter settings.

Habit #2: Smoking

On top of a mountain of evidence that smoking is harmful to your body, we can add that it increases your likelihood of hearing loss. Cigarette smoke affects hearing in several ways. First, smoking closes blood vessels that we depend on to nourish the hair cells of our inner ear. Limitations on our circulatory system can effectively starve the hair cells, and when they die they cannot be replaced.

Smoking also introduces chemicals to our auditory pathways that make it harder to interpret sound waves in the brain. By harming our hearing structures and our hearing methods, smoking delivers a one-two punch to our auditory system.

Habit #3: Wearing Ear Buds

While it’s easy to recognize that a loud train or a factory floor or a summer rock concert can harm our hearing, it can be hard to remember that personal devices can deliver dangerous levels of noise – often straight into your ear drum. Ear buds can be especially bad for your hearing at loud volumes. If listening to music via earphones is part of your daily routine, make it better for your hearing. Set conservative volume limits on the devices you listen on. If you listen to your device in challenging noisy environments, like a rush hour bus commute, resist the temptation to up the volume to compete with surrounding noise. Finally, make a switch from ear buds to noise-canceling headphones which expose your hearing to less dangerous direct sound.

Habit #4: Drinking

An occasional drink at dinner or with friends can be a fun way to celebrate a moment, but sustained partying can really take a toll on your life, your liver and your hearing. Alcohol makes itself known when it hits our brains, limiting our coordination and cognition skills, among which is our ability to hear and comprehend sound. Drinking can create a harmful environment in the inner ear that damages delicate hair cells.

If that’s not enough to deter you, sustained or excessive drinking can cause major physical changes in the brain, including a weakened ability to hear low-frequency sounds and a shrunken auditory cortex.

Habit #5: Avoiding the Dentist

We don't eat with our ears, of course, but maintaining your teeth makes a big difference in having healthy circulation. Oral care prevents harmful bacteria from taking hold in our mouths and spreading in our body via our blood stream. Similar to smoking, oral bacteria restricts our blood circulation and keeps resources away from our inner ear. Without proper nourishment, the inner ear sustains lasting damage. With each irreplaceable hair cell that dies, gradual hearing loss accumulates.

Habit #6: Using Cotton Swabs

You shouldn’t be sticking anything in your ear – the least of all cotton swabs which can lodge cotton fibers in your ear, get stuck or even perforate your eardrum. Most earwax is self-cleaning – it works its way out of your ear with your jaw motions while you speak or eat. If you notice excessive earwax build up, ask your doctor to help you loosen and remove the build up. Otherwise, just clean your outer ears with a washcloth and mild soap and never stick anything inside them.

HearCare Rhode Island

Now that you can recognize bad hearing habits, why not develop some good habits? Making a regular appointment with your audiologist for an annual hearing exam is a great place to start on the road to hearing health. You should also see an audiologist if you notice any sudden changes to your hearing – delaying treatment for hearing loss does more harm than good. If you’re in the Warwick area, and looking for exceptional audiological care, drop us a line at HearCare Rhode Island to set up an appointment today!