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Aging and exposure to loud noise are two of the most common causes of hearing loss. But did you know that air quality can affect your ears as well? Recent research found that air pollution can cause sensorineural hearing loss.
A 2020 Study on Air Pollution and Hearing Abilities
Researchers have been looking for links between air pollution and hearing abilities. One group of researchers from Taiwan collected data from the National Health Insurance Research Database in Taiwan and included data from over 75,700 individuals. Then, they compared these health records with data from 74 air quality monitoring stations across the country to find out which parts of the country, and which participants, experienced the most air pollution.
They found that exposure to high levels of carbon monoxide (CO) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) can increase the risk of sensorineural hearing loss. And the worse the air quality, the higher the risk of hearing loss. People with low levels of exposure and moderate levels of exposure had less hearing loss than those with high levels of exposure to air pollution.
These findings were published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health and shared around the world.
Does Air Pollution Affect Our Hearing?
The Taiwanese study results are clear: air pollution can cause hearing loss! People living in parts of the country with high levels of air pollution had much higher rates of hearing loss. Parts of the country with low levels of air pollution also had lower levels of hearing loss.
This research found that people who breathed in more nitrogen dioxide were 1.63 times more likely to have hearing loss than people in areas with low nitrogen dioxide levels. Higher levels of carbon monoxide also increased the risk of hearing loss. People in areas with high CO levels were 1.45 times more likely to have hearing loss.
How Does Air Pollution Affect Our Hearing Abilities?
These early studies seem to indicate that harmful CO and NO2 levels in the air can harm the body. When you breathe air that has higher levels of these gases, you may not be getting as much oxygen as your body needs. The cells in the ear are very sensitive to oxygen levels and decreases in blood oxygen levels can damage the inner ear cells.
Air pollution can also increase the risk of ear infections, especially in children. Air pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide are commonly connected to ear infections. Most ear infections are minor, and taking antibiotics for a few days, as directed by a doctor, can effectively treat ear infections. However, ear infections can lead to complications in the inner ear and may cause hearing loss.
Improving Air Quality
This study highlights how important it is to monitor and improve air quality. Cleaner air is linked to improved overall health, better energy, and a lower risk of hearing loss. Reducing air pollution is an important step around the world to ensure everyone can breathe clean air.
Do You Have Hearing Loss?
If you have hearing loss, whether from air pollution, exposure to loud noise, or as part of the natural aging process, it’s time to prioritize your hearing health. These are some of the most common signs of hearing loss:
- Asking your loved ones to repeat themselves
- Turning up the volume on the telephone and the TV
- Having a hard time following conversations anywhere with background noise
- Not hearing when someone calls to you from another room
- Some sounds seem muffled or hard to hear
- You notice that you have one “good ear” and one “bad ear”
If you notice any of these signs of hearing loss in yourself or a family member, it’s time to book a hearing test. This test will show you exactly what sounds you’re missing, and what sounds you’re hearing normally. A hearing test also helps us determine what kind of hearing loss you have.
Treating Hearing Loss
Are you ready to do something about your hearing loss? We work with the world’s finest hearing aid manufacturers to bring you quality, affordable hearing health care. Explore our most popular hearing aids and features, and find the hearing aids that match your lifestyle and budget. Come see us today!