Hearing damage: the main causes and how to prevent them

24 Oct '2017 Sound

What did you say? Can you repeat that?  Hearing damage is a real handicap in our times that are full of music, noise, and sounds. What are the main factors that cause our ears to malfunction?

Hearing damage:
the main causes

Not being able to follow conversations at crowded places? Or got one ear functioning way less than the other, a constant beep: hearing damage can come in different forms and ways.  Technically, hearing damage can be a result of a mechanical defect in the audial channel, that blocks the transmission of sounds. It can also be caused by damage to the inner ear, the inner ear nerves or the receptive system in the brain.

But of course, these ear problems mostly don’t come out of the blue, often they are a result of illnesses, accidents or factors we encounter in life.

1. Medical reasons

Many medical conditions can have their effect on your hearing. Think of tumors, Meunière’s disease, infections, and malformations. This can be restored with earwax removal. There are also chronical diseases that can affect your hearing, like Multiple Sclerosis and Diabetes. And don’t forget there are many types of medicine that have hearing problems as a side effect.

Also, an excess of earwax can block the ear canal and prevent conduction of sound. Do you experience hearing loss in combination with severe pain in the ears? Then a heavy ear infection might be the cause. Go see a doctor!

By Sue Clark (Flickr: page 241 Internal Ear) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

2. Rips and Tears

Fireworks, a departing fighter jet, gunfire and other explosions can cause such heavy sound waves that they can rip the eardrum or damage the inner air on impact. This is called ‘acoustic trauma’. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Wearing hearing protection can save your ears from these blasts.

But there is more danger ahead for the eardrums: a sudden change in air pressure, for instance in the airplane or with scuba diving, can also cause rips and tears, and make sure to be careful poking in your ear with cotton buds or other things.

Did you know, its just because of 3 little bones inside your middle ears that you are actually able to hear the music you are playing right now? A heavy accident can cause these little bones to get out of place, resulting in hearing loss. An accident can also cause damage to the eardrum or the inner ear nerves. So take care and watch yourself.

3. Noise exposure

The workspace is often the place where people get exposed to noises for hours and hours at a time. Think of heavy machinery, tools, and engines. When you love your Harley: also do keep in mind the motor and wind noise is prone to damage your precious ears. So when you protect your head with a helmet, consider protecting your ears too.

4. Years and years

The older we get, the higher the change we experience gradual hearing loss, because of the decline in the little hairs in the ears over the years. Luckily implants are getting better and better, but still, we’d rather keep our ears as new. How much we would like to be able to stop time: that’s just one thing we have not found yet. But what we can do, is make sure you take good care of your ears now, protect them when necessary, so they’ll last a bit longer.

5. Loud Music

Coming home with a beep in your ears after a concert or party? That means your ears are protesting. In most cases, the rushing sound will disappear again, but make sure to give your ears some rest after exposure to loud music and don’t forget your earplugs next time!

And don’t forget that playing loud music on your headphones is absolutely a major risk. Keep those beats in balance and watch your Db’s.

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