5 Things That Can Damage Your Hearing

  1. Beltone Audiology | Hearing Loss

Everybody fears hearing loss, especially as they grow older. While hearing loss is often due to aging, other times it can be due to excessive ear wax, prolonged exposure to noise, or even medication. Here are five things that may damage your hearing.

Ear Wax Build Up

Wax build up deep inside the inner ear canal that is very close to the eardrum can block a significant portion of what you are hearing. With this situation, as part of your own hearing care, there are over-the counter-solutions available that you place directly into the ear canal. If the wax build-up has reached a level that the over-the-counter medications are not able to treat effectively, your general physician should be able to remove it.

Improperly Using a Q-tip or Cotton Swab

If you look at a package of cotton swabs, you’ll see various warning statements such as “do not insert into the ear canal” or “entering the ear canal could cause serious injury.” Using a cotton swab is not an ideal way to remove ear wax as you may scrape, or even puncture, your eardrum.

Listening to Music With Headphones

Constantly listening to loud music through “over-ear” headphones, headphones that cover the entire ear with a surrounding cushion that fits right against your skull, is a good way to damage your hearing. These types of headphones create a small, enclosed area that the sound reverberates in driving the energy of the sound directly into your eardrum. If you do use headphones, get the type that is “open-ear” as they do not enclose the entire outer ear and allow for some of the energy of the sound to dissipate. This same concept applies to “earphones,” also known as “in-ears,” and “earbuds.” Earphones are inserted into the ear canal creating that same effect of trapping all of the sound energy into a confined area.

Certain Types of Medications

Certain over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen and naproxen, can have a negative effect on your ability to hear if used for a prolonged period at a high dosage. There is also a classification of drugs known as “ototoxic” that can contribute to hearing loss. These particular medications can be found as antibiotics, diuretics, and chemotherapy drugs.


One of the effects of nicotine is that it constricts the blood vessels. This narrowing of the blood vessels results in less oxygen being delivered to all the cells in the body, and a less efficient removal of any waste products. The majority of research and testing shows that this has a significant negative impact on the network of capillaries responsible for the proper blood flow to and from the inner ear and eardrum.

Your hearing is a precious thing and should be maintained. Avoiding use or lessening the use of earbuds, cotton swabs, and nicotine can help preserve your hearing.