Many tend to believe that aging comes naturally with hearing loss to some degree. However, this is not true, the process not being exclusive to all individuals of older age. In fact, in many cases, the process is not age-related but is caused by various environmental factors. Yes, you read correctly, hearing loss is in a close relationship with the environment in which we live. Below we have a short list of environmental factors that can cause hearing loss.
1. Noisy environments
Exposure to loud noises will obviously lead to hearing loss to some degree. However, the noise pollution must be constant. The explanation behind noise pollution-related hearing loss is the fact that sensory cells in the ear, the hair cells in the ear, to be more exact, suffer permanent damage. This leads to sensorineural hearing loss. The process is in many cases irreversible, the only option for the patient being a hearing aid.
Risk categories: people working in noisy environments, such as soldiers, construction workers, musicians or those with noisy hobbies such as motorcycling are more prone to develop hearing loss.
How to prevent it: if you find yourself in one of the situations above, it would be advisable to invest in some earplugs in order to protect your ear health.
2. Heavy metal exposure
Unfortunately, lead, cobalt, aluminium and other heavy metals are present in so many everyday objects, and unfortunately, in many cases, present in our food and beverages. Some of the most common ways of exposure are industrial waste, being the case of those living near industrial waste management areas, consumption of fish with high levels of mercury, such as mackerel, and in most of the cases, through unfiltered tap water. These elements enter the body and cause permanent damage to muscles and nerves, including the nerves in the ear. This leads to tinnitus or hearing loss.
Risk categories: unfortunately, everybody can be at risk of heavy metal exposure.
How to prevent it: minimize the potential sources of heavy metals, install water filters and avoid food from uncontrolled sources.
Although the accent falls on the negative effects of smoking on the pulmonary system, many tend to neglect the negative impact of smoking on ear health. As a matter of fact, smokers are twice more prone to develop hearing issues than non-smokers. Smoking is affecting the blood vessel system by constricting them, and as a result, the amount of blood reaching the ear decreases, leading to permanent damage.
Risk categories: smokers or second-hand smokers.
How to prevent it: a great tip is to quit smoking or to reduce the exposure to second-hand smoke.
These are some of the environmental factors that lead to hearing loss to various degrees. Keep in mind that many of these factors can be controlled with a little attention to details and motivation. However, if hearing loss occurs, regardless of the cause, it is advisable to undergo several screening procedures and invest in a hearing aid, being the only solution to the issue.