5 Surprising Things That Could Be Hurting Your Hearing

One of the most common causes of hearing loss is exposure to loud noise, like loud music, noisy yard equipment and sporting events. Any noise higher than 85 decibels has the capacity to cause hearing loss with prolonged exposure. But loud noise isn’t the only thing that can put the “huh?” into “hard of hearing.” What are some less common ways you could damage your hearing?


Certain medications can affect your hearing. These drugs, called ototoxic medications, can cause both temporary and permanent hearing loss. The list of medications with ototoxicity as a side effect is extensive and includes chemotherapy drugs, some antibiotics, NSAIDS like ibuprofen and even aspirin in large quantities. If you’re concerned that your pill regimen is affecting your hearing, bring it up with your doctor and pharmacist.


Smoking is bad for you. It’s bad for your lungs, it’s bad for your teeth and gums, and it’s bad for your skin. But you probably already knew that. We bet you didn’t know that smoking may be correlated with reducing hearing function and permanent hearing loss. The auditory frequencies most affected are high frequencies and the frequencies associated with speech. What does that mean? Unless you are a big fan of asking people to repeat themselves, consider putting down the nicotine sticks.

Ear candling

Jamming a hard object into a highly sensitive organ then lighting that object on fire may seem like the definition of a bad idea, but believe it or not, proponents of ear candling suggest doing exactly that. They claim that this process helps remove ear wax, debris and bacteria from your ear canal. What does science say? It’s not a great idea to jam a hard object into your highly sensitive ear then light that object on fire. Not only are the supposed benefits unproven, it could be a good way to injure yourself.

Cotton swabs

You might’ve grown up using these ubiquitous tools to clean water, wax or whatever out your ear canal, but you can do some real damage to your hearing if you’re not careful. Instead of giving you a deep clean, cotton swabs can actually push ear wax and other debris deeper into your ear canal, causing an impaction that can affect your hearing. And, even worse, you could seriously damage your eardrum or the delicate cochlear bones in your ear accidentally. Don’t stick things in your ear!

Hearing aids

Yes, you read that right — hearing aids could possibly lead to further hearing loss! That little fact comes with a great big caveat though. Generally speaking, hearing aids are safe, as long as they’re fitted by a licensed hearing healthcare professional like an audiologist. Without a proper fitting, you run the risk of too much amplification, which could cause additional hearing loss. And if you’re considering over-the-counter sound amplifiers instead of medical-grade hearing aids to save a few bucks, you might want to think twice. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration doesn’t currently recognize any over-the-counter products that claim to address hearing loss as “hearing aids.” Buyer beware!

The above content is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you have a medical condition.  The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on our site.

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