Hearing Loss in Contact Sports

Living in the U.S. means living within an active society that places sports as a priority – whether that’s football, baseball, Nascar, competitive shooting, swimming, boxing, martial arts, and even diving – it’s hard to avoid the athletic enthusiasm. For those active in sports, it’s fairly standard to be aware of the risks in playing a contact sport, but one thing that people should really focus on is hearing loss. It’s more common than you might think, especially in extreme physical sports like football or hockey. Even with the right protective equipment, a hit to the head could damage the various parts of the ear, permanently.

It’s important for athletes to understand what they’re getting into and how they can do their best to prevent hearing loss. Concussions are common in contact sports like football, hockey, boxing, and martial arts, but what does that have to do with the ear? The impact that can cause a concussion can also cause damage to the inner ear or even damage parts of the brain that have to do with registering and recognizing the sound. Another common condition, generally with boxing and wrestling, is cauliflower ear – a cosmetic issue when consistent trauma to the head and ear has not been treated in the right amount of time. Not only is this cosmetic, but it could have a great impact on hearing as well. 

A wide range of symptoms, including tinnitus – a constant ringing, roaring, or clicking sound – which can keep people from living out their daily lives. Additional problems include concussions, which damage the brain and could lead to hearing loss, as well as meningitis among other things. If we’re talking about water sports like swimming or diving, there’s the obvious problem of swimmer’s ear, but what about barotrauma, a condition dealing in changes in pressure which are mostly seen in divers whose bodies don’t equalize with ocean depth. 

All of this sounds morbid and hopeless, I know, but there are people out there who can help, including yourself. The Ear, Nose, and Throat Institute wants to help educate athletes on concussions and to do a pre-assessment test to better prevent future injuries. Once a concussion or injury has taken place, the providers at the ENT Institute can diagnose and treat so that patients return to their normal activities. Athletes can also help themselves by wearing proper protective equipment, wearing hearing protection (for example, extra hearing protection for shooters), and doing what they can to prevent hearing loss and damage. Call today to make an appointment with ENT Institute for assessment, treatment, or education to fight head injuries and hearing loss. 

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