Hearing Loss Risk Factors
Things that may increase your risk of hearing loss include:
- Occupation: Jobs that regularly expose employees to loud noises can damage the ears and increase your risk of hearing loss. Jobs with potentially loud sounds include construction, industrial or manufacturing jobs, transportation jobs around trains or planes, landscaping or logging jobs, and military or first responder jobs. These all have sounds associated at a decibel level high enough to create permanent hearing loss, even with protective earwear.
- Hobbies: Certain recreational activities, like hunting/shooting, motorcycles/dirt bikes/ATV, snowmobiling, carpentry, loud music/concerts, or small aircraft all increase your risk of permanent hearing loss. Wearing protective earwear can help protect against hearing loss.
- Genetics: Your unique genetic makeup may make you more likely to experience hearing loss, primarily from sound-related ear damage or age-related inner ear deterioration.
- Age: Over time, the structures of your inner ear can begin to break down, resulting in the gradual loss of hearing, typically in both ears. This is also known as presbycusis, and it affects one in three adults over the age of 65.
- Some medications: Always read the warning labels and risks with your prescription and over-the-counter medicine. Certain antibiotics, prescription drugs and chemotherapy drugs can all increase your risk of hearing loss. High doses of aspirin, other pain relievers, or loop diuretics can also increase your chances of experiencing hearing loss.
- Chronic conditions or diseases: Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, vascular disease, kidney disease, sleep apnea, some autoimmune disorders or conditions like chronic inflammation or oxidative stress can all greatly increase the likelihood of developing hearing loss.
- Some illnesses: Illnesses or diseases resulting in a high fever, like meningitis, can damage the cochlea, part of your inner ear essential to hearing the full spectrum of sound.
If one or more of these risk factors apply to you, or if you simply noticed more difficulty hearing, it’s time to speak to your healthcare provider about seeing a hearing care specialist.