How Lack of Sleep Can Impact Hearing Loss

Dec 22, 2020
A lack of sleep negatively affects the human body in various ways. Overnight, our bodies recharge and without adequate sleep, we aren’t properly catering to our physical and mental health.

A lack of sleep negatively affects the human body in various ways. Overnight, our bodies recharge and without adequate sleep, we aren’t properly catering to our physical and mental health. Insomnia is known to be closely correlated with hearing impairment and tinnitus because of the brain’s relationship to our hearing ability. Research also shows that a lack of sleep is related to poor blood circulation, another body function tied to hearing 

Hearing Loss

Studies show that less sleep harms blood vessel function, which ears depend on to circulate the blood. Additionally, slower blood flow means that fewer nutrients will enter the ear which can damage the ear’s hair cells. The hair cells are responsible for detecting sound waves and sending signals to the brain, and have a hard time doing so without the appropriate blood circulation.

Just like with hearing loss, it’s important to seek treatment for insomnia if you feel your daily life is being negatively affected. You should seek professional help on how to get a better night’s sleep, and if you experience signs of hearing loss or tinnitus, it is important to schedule a hearing evaluation as soon as possible. 

What are the 3 types of hearing loss and what are their causes?

The three different types of hearing loss are sensorineural, conductive and mixed. Sensorineural occurs when permanent damage has been done to your inner ear, conductive is temporary damage caused by damage to the middle and outer parts of the ear, and mixed is a combination of both.

Sensorineural Hearing Loss

Sensorineural hearing loss, the most common form of hearing loss, typically transpires following damage done to the ear’s cochlea. The cochlea is filled with rows of little hair cells responsible for sending the sound waves directly to the brain. Over time, the hair cells get destroyed or badly damaged from loud noises, causing permanent damage resulting in hearing loss that is only fixable with hearing aids or other listening devices. 

Causes for sensorineural hearing loss are:

  • Aging
  • Injury
  • Excessive noise exposure
  • Viral infections (such as measles or mumps)
  • Shingles
  • Ototoxic drugs (medications that damage hearing)
  • Meningitis
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • High fever or elevated body temperature
  • Ménière’s disease (a disorder of the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance)
  • Acoustic tumors
  • Heredity
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Hypertension

Conductive Hearing Loss

Conductive hearing loss is another form of hearing loss, which is caused by blockages or damage done to the outer or middle ear. Tumors or excessive amounts of earwax are usually responsible for this. On a positive note, conductive hearing loss is temporary and is usually fixed by a professional through antibiotics, flushing of the ear canal for ear wax compaction, or surgery

Causes for conductive hearing loss are:

  • Infections of the ear canal or middle ear resulting in fluid or pus buildup
  • Perforation or scarring of the eardrum
  • Wax buildup
  • Dislocation of the middle ear bones (ossicles)
  • Foreign object in the ear canal
  • Otosclerosis (an abnormal bone growth in the middle ear)
  • Abnormal growths or tumors

Mixed Hearing Loss

The last form of hearing loss is mixed hearing loss, meaning that there is damage to the inner, middle and outer sections of the ear. This typically occurs when the outer ear can’t sound effectively to the inner ear, and the inner ear can’t send those sound signals to the brain. People suffering from mixed hearing loss usually hear sounds in a very soft tone and find them difficult to comprehend.

Causes for mixed hearing loss are:

  • Genetic Factors
  • Aging; after age 65, one out of three people has hearing loss
  • Excessive noise, often from work or listening to loud music
  • Certain medications
  • Birth conditions
  • Tumors and diseases
  • Head trauma
  • Earwax
  • Ear infections

What causes sudden hearing loss?

Sudden hearing loss, or “sudden deafness”, is an unexplained loss of hearing either all at once or over the course of a couple of days. Sudden hearing loss can happen to people of all ages but typically arises in people in their forties and fifties. Sudden hearing loss usually stems from a problem with the sensory organs in the inner ear. Research shows that it will affect 1 in 6 people per 5,000 every year. 

Causes of sudden hearing loss:

  • Infections.
  • Head trauma.
  • Autoimmune diseases.
  • Exposure to certain drugs that treat cancer or severe infections.
  • Blood circulation problems.
  • Neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis.
  • Disorders of the inner ear, such as Ménière’s disease

If you’re experiencing symptoms of hearing loss or having difficulty hearing, seek medical help from our specialists at Michigan Avenue Hearing Health.