“The Good News and Bad News on Hearing Loss”
I found some really interesting studies this past week and thought I should share. According to a presentation made in June at the International Society of Audiology Congress in Hong Kong and also published online by Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, smoking and excess weight (and occupational noise exposure) are risk factors for age-related hearing loss.But on the bright side of things, another study led by Erik Fransen of the University of Antwerp, in Belgium, found that moderate alcohol consumption (at least one drink per week) actually had a protective effect on hearing!
Involved 9 audiological centers in 7 European countries and 4083 participants between the ages of 53 and 67. The participants filled out questionnaires on their exposure to environmental risk factors and their medical history. Hearing tests were performed and the participants' pure-tone averages were adjusted for age and sex. The researchers analyzed the data in search of risk factors for hearing loss.
The collected data interestingly showed that smoking significantly increased hearing loss in frequencies
over 1000 Hz, with the degree of damage being dose-dependent. The effect of smoking on hearing remained significant even after cardiovascular disease was factored in.
A high body mass index (BMI) also correlated with increased hearing loss. And here's one for all you tall people: tall people were found to have better hearing on average, with a more pronounced effect at low frequencies! And moderate alcohol consumption was inversely correlated with hearing loss in both high and low frequencies.
And not to say we don't know already, but the research also confirms many earlier findings that exposure to noise contributes to hearing loss later on in life.Exposure to excessive noise is the major avoidable cause of permanent hearing loss worldwide, according to the world health organization. So why aren't we doing more to protect our vital sense? It is something that can be avoided if we took the proper measures and is something we would not want to loose.
In the article, the author (Erik Fransen) concluded, “Hearing loss has always been considered an inevitable part of aging, but more and more studies seem to indicate this is not necessarily true. Apparently a healthy lifestyle can be beneficial for hearing conservation at higher ages.”