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Your Habits Are Hurting Your Hearing

bad habits that harm hearing

We all have habits that we’d like to break, whether it’s an overindulgence in chocolate or fingernail biting. While some of our habits don’t really affect our lives, others can have serious impacts on our health. In fact, many of the most common negative habits can have a major impact on your hearing health. Here are a few:
Smoking
The research is pretty clear: smoking has a huge negative effect on our health. Smoking has been linked to everything from lung cancer to stroke and poor dental health, but did you know that it can also hurt your hearing?
While most of smoking’s negative health effects come from the innumerable chemicals and carcinogens in tobacco, nicotine is the main culprit in smoking’s effects on our ears. Nicotine actually restricts blood flow to our ears, which can cause long-term and irreversible damage to the delicate cells that we rely upon for our hearing abilities. Basically, the more you smoke, the more damage you do to your ears.
Additionally, smoking hurts the hearing health of your loved ones. In addition to harming your own hearing health, studies show that people exposed to second-hand smoke (especially adolescents) are almost twice as likely to develop low-frequency hearing loss than their peers in non-smoking households.
Vaping
Although the jury is still out on the overall negative health effects of vaping and e-cigarettes on the human body, any vaping fluid or e-juice that contains nicotine will have the same negative hearing health effects as smoking. If that wasn’t bad enough, e-juices contain hundreds of chemicals with as-of-yet unknown health impacts, one of which, propylene glycol, has been clearly linked to cases of sudden hearing loss.
Binge Drinking
While moderate and responsible alcohol consumption can be part of a healthy lifestyle, binge drinking and consistent excessive drinking can do more than irreversibly damage your liver. Many of the leading health experts believe that drinking alcohol can affect your brain’s ability to interpret and understand sound.
When this happens, it’s believed that sounds at lower frequencies might create a toxic environment within the inner ear that can damage the all-important and sensitive hair cells of the cochlea. As a response, the central auditory cortex of the brain might actually shrink in binge drinkers, which means that the nerves responsible for our hearing abilities can be negatively impacted over time.
Poor Dental Hygiene
Forgetting to floss can do more than give you a cavity or two. In fact, while it might seem a bit weird to think that not brushing your teeth can hurt your hearing, when you allow your teeth and gums to become unhealthy, you allow bacteria to build up in your mouth.
Eventually, these bacteria can make it into your bloodstream, causing inflammation and a narrowing of the arteries, both of which result in poor circulation. Since adequate blood circulation is critical for healthy hearing, forgetting to floss and brush your teeth twice a day could be hurting your ears.
Letting Hearing Loss Go Untreated
All too often, people with signs and symptoms of hearing loss let it go untreated. Whether this is due to a lack of access to hearing healthcare, a dearth of financial resources, or an unwillingness to acknowledge one’s hearing difficulties, untreated hearing loss is a major concern.
When hearing loss is left untreated, one increases their risk for dementia, dangerous falls, and other negative health effects. Thus, if you or someone you know if experiencing hearing loss, the best place to start is to schedule an appointment with your hearing healthcare professional today!

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The Surprising Do’s and Don'ts of Earwax Removal

removing earwax

Cleaning your ears can be an often uncomfortable experience and understandably worrying when wondering if you are removing earwax in a safe and effective way when using at-home remedies. To make matters worse, asking your doctor or healthcare provider about earwax removal is often perceived as an unpleasant or embarrassing subject, but is much more common than one might think. About 44,000 ears are syringed by health care providers to remove ear wax annually, proving that rules regarding the do’s and don’ts of ear wax removal are not widely known.

The Do’s

  1. It’s important to first understand that earwax is completely healthy and an important defense mechanism for your ear’s overall health. Earwax, also known as Cerumen, shields the ear from bacteria, microorganisms, and foreign particles, protecting you from ear damage and infections. With over 22 million visits to physicians each year in the United States for ear infections, keeping earwax levels healthy is important, but how much is too much?
  2. Understanding the symptoms of excessive earwax buildup is the second step to making sure your ear health is up to code. Impacted earwax is when earwax has built up in the ear canal to an extensive degree, showing symptoms that something isn’t quite correct. Ringing in the ears known as Tinnitus, impaired hearing, ear fullness, an unpleasant odor or discharge, and changes to hearing aid effectiveness or functionality are all signs that it’s time for a cleaning.
  3. Seek out the advice or help from a medical professional if you notice hearing impairment, ringing, or if infections have occurred, as they may be signs of an underlying condition. It is also important to seek out medical advice before attempting any at-home remedies for earwax removal, as some medical conditions can make those remedies unsafe.

The Don’ts

  1. Amazingly, our ears are designed to clean themselves, as old earwax is moved outside of the ear canal by jaw movements such as chewing or talking and flakes off, but sometimes this earwax requires some outside assistance being removed. With that in mind, it’s important to only clean your ears when necessary, as overcleaning can lead to irritation, infection, or even more wax buildup in the ear canal, making wax removal counterproductive.
  2. If you must clean your ears at home, avoid using cotton swabs or sharp objects such as pins or paper clips to clean or scratch your ears. These objects are far too small and can reach fragile parts of your ear canal, cutting or even puncturing your eardrum. Damaged or ruptured eardrums can lead to a host of complications, including hearing impairment, middle ear infections, and cholesteatoma, a formed cyst that can damage bones in your middle ear.
  3. Do not forget to clean hearings aids properly according to your health care providers instructions. Dirty or ill-fitting hearing aids can aid in the creation of earwax by introducing outside bacteria into the ear canal in which earwax is created as a defense mechanism to protect against.