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7 Surprising Causes of Hearing Loss

by Melissa Bell
5 minutes read

According to statistics and based on standard hearing exams, one in eight persons in the United States aged 12 and above have hearing loss in both ears. While some hearing loss risk factors are understandable, including traumatic brain injury, excess noise exposure, or aging, others aren’t usually so obvious. Here are seven surprising causes of hearing loss.

Hearing Loss

1.   Allergies

Your immune system produces histamine-releasing antibodies to respond to allergens. The histamine release creates an allergic response, resulting in sneezing, congestion, and itching that raises mucus production. This may lead to temporary conductive hearing loss. During spring, the barometric climatic changes and moist air addition worsen spring allergies. Conductive hearing loss happens when things like earwax or fluid avert sound waves from reaching the ear and into the middle ear’s tiny bones. This hearing loss type is treatable, but it makes it temporarily hard to hear.

Allergic skin reactions may result in ear swelling and itching of the ear canal and outer ear. While some people are allergic to earrings, laundry detergents, or fragrances, others may have pet allergies. If swelling blocks your middle ear’s opening, the Eustachian tube might not drain well, causing pressure and fluid buildup, which gives you a full feeling in the affected ear. This creates an ideal breeding zone for bacteria and middle ear infections. Understanding the allergies that make you lose hearing can help you protect yourself better.

2.   High-stress levels

While stress is normal for everyone, chronic stress can affect your health. When your body reacts to stress, the adrenaline overproduction lessens blood flow to the ears, impacting hearing. The inner ear’s delicate hair cells depend on constant blood flow to get the correct oxygen amount and nutrients.

Due to continuous stress, your hair cells can get destroyed, sometimes permanently, resulting in immediate hearing loss. Handling your stressors is an excellent way to safeguard your hearing. You can do so by exercising, taking on a hobby, doing breathing exercises, treating yourself to things you enjoy, and more.

3.   Sleep apnea

According to a study, sleep apnea may promote hearing impairment via the cochlea’s inflammation and ischemia. Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common, and it occurs when the tissues and muscles around your airway relax, blocking breathing. This can make you snore and regularly wake up struggling to breathe. Your ears need a constant blood supply to function optimally. However, sleep apnea minimizes blood flow, causing hearing problems. Additionally, persistent loud snoring can permanently destroy your ear’s fragile hair cells, causing sensorineural hearing loss.

4.   Hypertension

Hypertension usually involves a sudden blood pressure hike. It has various adverse health effects, which may lead to temporary hearing impairment and possibly accelerate permanent hearing loss. In people with hypertension, the heart pumps blood at very high speeds to each nerve and vein, including sensitive ear organs like the eardrum. This sudden blood burst overwhelms the ear’s blood vessels and delicate nerves.

Persons with hypertension usually experience temporary hearing loss before feeling the primary hypertension symptoms. Thankfully, the hearing loss fades immediately after the blood pressure stabilizes. However, it might get you closer to severe hearing loss because the abrupt, powerful blood bursts can damage the blood vessels, such as small vein walls. These damages build up over time, aggravating hearing loss symptoms.

5.   Obesity

A study found that high body mass index, particularly high-fat mass index, increases the risk of age-related hearing loss. Obesity and obesity-related factors compromise blood flow to your cochlea, the inner ear hearing chamber. Obesity narrows blood vessels, reducing blood flow which could also result in cochlea damage.

The lack of blood flow hinders the cochlea from reinstating itself after damage, slowly shrinking its function. Cochlea and the close nerve cell damage is irreversible. People with large waist sizes also have a high hearing loss risk, which increases with waist size increase. A proper diet and regular exercise can help keep your weight in check.

6.   Excessive drinking

People who drink excessively are at a higher risk of contracting chronic illnesses, including high blood pressure, stroke, and heart disease. Excessive drinking destroys the central auditory cortex, lengthening the brain’s time to process sound. Heavy drinking in young adults may also result in issues processing low-frequency sounds. Overindulging, even for a day, creates balance concerns because the alcohol gets absorbed into the inner ear’s fluid, which tracks balance even when it’s no longer brain and blood.

7.   Head tumors and trauma

Tumors like an acoustic neuroma cause hearing loss. This hearing loss may also include tinnitus or fullness sensation in one or both ears. While tumors can be treated surgically or medically, the possibility of hearing restoration isn’t guaranteed. Head trauma may damage your inner ear’s components, leading to permanent or temporary hearing loss. If you sustain injuries to the head, get an immediate evaluation by a doctor. The examination may include an eye and hearing assessment.


While some causes of hearing loss are known to most people, others may not be as obvious. Consider familiarizing yourself with these surprising hearing loss causes.

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