“I’m just getting older. It’s normal to lose hearing. There’s nothing I can do about it.”
You’ve likely either said or heard one of these statements more than once.
It’s because of a common misconception.
Experts call it “age-related hearing loss.” But, in reality, aging has very little direct impact on losing your ability to hear. It’s simply that as a person ages, they experience things that cause hearing loss, and that accumulates over time.
It could be that you loved loud concerts in your 20’s. You took certain medications in your 40’s. Or in other cases, it may be a progressive loss caused by a health condition.
Let’s explore some health conditions that could be giving you hearing loss.
1. Acoustic Neuroma
This is a rare condition in which a non-cancerous tumor grows on your hearing nerves. The tumor is actually the result of your body trying to protect your nerves from radiation or a very loud noise.
Just like with people, sometimes the best of intentions have negative consequences, and this tumor that grows to protect can actually harm the nerves.
A person who has an acoustic neuroma will have a full feeling in one or both ears. They’ll often feel dizzy and may have headaches and numbness.
If caught early, surgeons can remove the tumor before it causes permanent damage. So don’t wait to get checked out if you experience these symptoms.
Did you have mumps when you were little?
This childhood disease causes inflammation in the glands that produce saliva. The facial swelling that results can damage the cochlea. That’s the snail-shaped part of your inner ear that houses the tiny hairs that pick up sound.
If you had mumps as a child, it’s best to get a hearing test to see if there was any permanent damage, even if you think your hearing is fine.
3. High Blood Pressure
Uncontrolled high blood pressure doesn’t just make your head sometimes feel like it’s going to explode. That extra pressure is cutting off circulation in your ears.
One study included 274 people, male and female, ages 45-64. They split them into a study group and a control group. They found that for both men and women, the more severe the hypertension is, the worse hearing loss is.
If you have high blood pressure, please take your medicine and take other steps to keep it down.
4. Unmanaged Anxiety or Depression
Studies have shown a circular relationship between hearing loss and anxiety. Untreated hearing loss appears to increase levels of anxiety. At the same time, anxiety often increases blood pressure which can cause permanent hearing loss.
Furthermore, there is a similar circular relationship between anxiety and depression, and tinnitus. Tinnitus is a type of hearing loss in which a person hears a ringing, thumping, buzzing, or other sounds that have no physical explanation.
Studies have shown that tinnitus can cause anxiety and depression. But it also appears that anxiety and depression make the tinnitus worse.
Do you feel caught in a vicious cycle? Know that treating one or more of these conditions involved can stop the downward spiral.
5. Paget’s Disease
Paget’s disease is a condition in which your body reabsorbs existing bone in a certain part of your body. It then tries to quickly replace it with new bone. The new bone is often fragile and unable to perform its job.
This leads to bone deformities and pain, and if it happens in the ear, it can cause hearing loss.
But the great news is that if you get diagnosed early, there’s a lot that doctors can do to reduce the damage.
What to Do If You Have One of These Conditions
Early diagnosis and treatment is generally the best way to prevent hearing loss. If you already have hearing loss because of one of these health conditions, then it’s likely permanent.
Going too long to get your hearing loss treated will only extend the effects. In most cases, the hearing loss will get worse with time. Get your hearing tested and speak with a hearing specialist about hearing solutions.