Some medicines are known to cause hearing loss as a potential side effect. These include certain antibiotics and cancer drugs. Often hearing is monitored during these treatments. However, some hearing loss may be permanent. Regular use of aspirin, NSAIDs, and acetaminophen can increase the risk of hearing loss. In some cases, hearing-related side effects go away when you stop taking the medication.
4. Chronic Disease
Certain chronic diseases that are not directly related to the ear can cause hearing loss. Some cause harm by interrupting blood flow to the inner ear or the brain. These conditions include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, also can be linked to some forms of hearing loss.
5. How You Hear -- Anatomy of the Ear
Sound waves enter the outer ear and travel through the ear canal. This causes the eardrum and tiny bones, called the hammer and anvil, in the middle ear to vibrate. Then vibrations travel to the fluid in the cochlea where microscopic hairs send nerve signals to the brain so sound is understood. If any of these parts are damaged or pathways are blocked, it can cause hearing loss.
6. Tumors and Growths
Noncancerous growths, including osteomas, exostoses, and benign polyps, can block the ear canal, causing hearing loss. In some cases, removing the growth can restore hearing. Acoustic neuroma (an inner ear tumor shown here), grows on the hearing and balance nerve in the inner ear. Balance issues, facial numbness, and tinnitus can also be a problem. Treatment can sometimes help preserve some hearing.
7. Explosive Noises
Nearly 17% of U.S. adults have some degree of hearing loss. Sometimes it is caused by very loud and sudden noises. Firecrackers, gunshots, or other explosions create powerful sound waves. These can rupture your eardrum or damage the inner ear. This is called acoustic trauma. The result can be immediate and may result in permanent damage and hearing loss.
8. Concerts, Loud Noises, and Tinnitus
Loud concert? Ringing in your ears afterward? That’s called tinnitus. The average decibel level at a rock show is 110, loud enough to cause permanent damage after just 15 minutes. Hearing damage can occur with extended exposure of any noise over 85 decibels. Other risky sounds include leaf blowers and chain saws. Normal conversation registers at 60. Tinnitus can last for hours, days, weeks, or permanently. To prevent hearing damage or loss, use earplugs and limit your exposure.
9. Headphones and Earbuds
Can others hear the music and lyrics you’re listening to through earphones? If so, you may want to turn down the volume. Using headphones or earbuds can cause temporary or permanent hearing changes. The louder the volume and the longer listening time, the greater your risks may be. For safer listening, lower the volume and limit listening time.
10. Earwax Buildup
Earwax protects the ear canal against dirt and bacteria. But earwax can build up and harden. This blockage can affect hearing. It also might give you an earache, or make you feel like your ear is clogged. Think you have an earwax blockage? Don't try removing the wax with a cotton-tipped swab or by inserting anything else into your ear canal. A doctor can do it quickly and safely.