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Unexpected Causes of Hearing Loss

You’re probably familiar with the most common causes of hearing loss: noise exposure, various types of infections and diseases, genetic predisposition, and old age are all among the usual contributors to the condition’s development.

However, not all causes of hearing impairment are obvious; there are factors that can have a significant impact on your ear health which you might have never considered:


Woman at a desk with laptop in front of her, holding her head in frustration

Everyone feels stressed sometimes: the pressures of day-to-day life can get a bit much for all of us. However, it is when stress becomes chronic that it starts having detrimental effects on your physical health, and these can include sensory problems such as hearing loss.

The tiny hair cells inside your ears require constant blood flow to receive oxygen and other essential nutrients. When your body responds to stress, an overproduction of adrenaline occurs, which reduces the blood flow to your ears and affects your hearing. If day-to-day stress becomes chronic, the blood flow disruption can damage the hair cells inside the ear, sometimes permanently.

Furthermore, hypertension (or high blood pressure) which often accompanies stress can also have a significant impact on your hearing since it damages the blood vessels around your entire body, including the ears.

Strenuous Exercise

Exercise in general is vital to your health, including your hearing health. 

However, heavy exercise that involves a lot of straining such as weightlifting, prolonged jogging, or even an intense yoga session can sometimes cause a perilymphatic fistula, or a tear in the membrane that separates your middle and inner ear. Sometimes the tear heals on its own, and sometimes it requires surgery. Hearing impairment caused by a perilymphatic fistula can be temporary or permanent.

Man lifting a weight, closeup

Poor Diet

People who are severely overweight or suffer from a dietary disorder have an increased risk of hearing loss. Dietary habits such as consuming an excessive amount of fats and sugars or failing to supply your body with enough nutrients and causing a vitamin deficiency, can disrupt the blood flow to your ears and lead to hearing problems.

Lack of Sleep

Poor sleeping habits come with an array of undesirable effects on your overall health, including your mental wellbeing, digestion, and cardiovascular system. In addition to worsening tinnitus symptoms, disturbed sleeping patterns have been shown to adversely affect hearing, too.


According to research, smoking has been found to have a strong association with hearing loss. It irritates the lining of the middle ear and blocks the neurotransmitters which send auditory information to the brain, endangering not only habitual smokers, but also former smokers and those exposed to second hand smoke.


Diabetes can affect various parts of the body, such as your hands, feet, eyes, and kidneys. It can also adversely affect the ears.

Over time, high blood sugar levels damage blood vessels and nerves in the inner ear. Low blood sugar, on the other hand, can disrupt the transmission of nerve signals from the inner ear to the brain. Both types of damage can lead to hearing impairment.

Viral Infections

Conditions relating to the ears are not the only ones that can cause hearing issues. Although often overlooked as a cause for hearing loss, viral infections such as influenza (or the flu) can also damage your ears.

Some viral infections directly damage inner ear structures, while others cause inflammatory responses or increased risk of bacterial and fungal infections, which then cause hearing loss.

One thing is clear: proactivity is key when it comes to protecting your hearing health. Being educated about the various factors which increase your risk of hearing impairment is a big part of that.

Being proactive about your hearing health also means being aware of what your level of hearing is and whether you require any treatment. Click here to book your free hearing test with us today!