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Other causes

 Medication
      A few types of medication may damage your hearing ability. These will, in general, only be prescribed when absolutely necessary.

      It is always a good idea to read the declaration on the medication thoroughly and ask your family doctor for advice if such types of medication are prescribed.

The jaw
      Some dental surgeons believe that there is a connection between tinnitus and a dysfunction of the joint connecting the jaw to the bone under the ear – the so-called temporomandibular joint.

Conditions
      Only in a few cases is there a specific factor connected to the occurrence of tinnitus. Conditions that might cause tinnitus include the following:

  • Blows to your head

  • Large doses of certain drugs such as aspirin

  • Loud or persistent noise exposure

  • Stress

  • Compacted ear wax

If you avoid these conditions the risk of getting tinnitus is much smaller. Use hearing protectors or earplugs if you are in a noisy workplace or often go to concerts with loud and continuous music.

Other reasons:

  • Age

  • Meniéré´s Disease

  • Head trauma

  • Perilymp fistula (a hole in the inner ear which allows fluid to escape)

  • Certain types of tumors

Cigarette smoking and hearing loss

Cigarette smoking may damage your hearing ability. Smokers are nearly 70 per cent more likely than nonsmokers to suffer hearing loss. The risk of becoming hearing-impaired often increases with the number of cigarettes smoked. In many cases, hearing problems increase proportionately with the intensity and duration of exposure to cigarette smoke. In general, smokers are 1.69 times more likely to damage their hearing ability. Heavy smokers are more than 1.30 times as likely to have a hearing loss in all age groups but the oldest. The greater prevalence of hearing loss among smokers remains after adjusting for factors such as occupational noise exposure, age and lifestyle. The above-mentioned facts form the conclusion of an American study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, June 1998.

According to the study, 25.9 per cent of smokers in the youngest age group - 48 to 59 years of age – were suffering from hearing loss compared to 16.1 per cent among non-smokers. 22.7 per cent of ex-smokers were suffering from hearing loss. The same trend was found in the older age groups.

Passive smoking may also increase the risk of becoming hearing-impaired. The study found that non-smokers living with a smoker were 1.94 times more likely to suffer from hearing problems than those who were not living with a smoker.

The study included 3,753 people aged between 48 and 92. Of these, 46 per cent were non-smokers, 39.3 per cent were ex-smokers and 14.7 per cent were current smokers. The current smokers smoked 17.5 cigarettes per day on average.

Solvents worsen hearing ability

Noise is not the only threat to hearing in a person’s working life. A recent report shows that exposure to the solvent styrene can lead to hearing loss. Workers in the plastic industry, who work with styrene in noisy surroundings have a higher risk of suffering hearing loss than people exposed only to excessive noise.

The report was written by the National Institute for Working Life in Sweden. The study involved 300 people from 14 different work places. Approximately 150 worked in the plastic industry.

The results were conclusive. The people who had worked with styrene had significantly poorer hearing than those who had not.

According to the institute, the conclusions are consistent with studies from other European countries. Auris, a Swedish magazine for hearing-impaired people, has referred to a Danish survey from the 1980s which showed that hearing loss was 10 per cent more common among people who had worked with solvents for more than five years.

It is not exactly clear how styrene can damage hearing ability, but animal experiments have shown that organic solvents harm the minute hair cells in the inner ear.