All ears! Causes of hearing loss

The Doctors | 10/31/2013, 8 p.m.

A new study has found that obese teens had greater hearing loss across all frequencies and were almost twice as likely to have one-sided, low-frequency hearing loss compared with their normal-weight peers. Scientists suspect that obesity-related inflammation may be a factor, and though more research is needed, the findings suggest a risk of early, and possibly ongoing, injury to the inner ear that could progress as obese teens become obese adults. It's another reason to help your children maintain a balanced diet and healthy weight.

In case you need another reason to quit: Earlier research has shown that smoking magnifies the threat of losing your hearing and that teenagers who are exposed to secondhand smoke nearly double their risk of hearing loss. Now researchers at New York University School of Medicine have found that teenagers are more likely to have hearing loss if their mothers smoked during pregnancy.

Women -- particularly those under 50 -- who took ibuprofen or acetaminophen two or more days a week were linked to an increased risk for hearing loss, according to research out of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. More than 200 other drugs -- over-the-counter and prescription alike -- also can damage hearing, sometimes permanently, says the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association; they include certain types of antibiotics and chemotherapy treatments, aspirin (in large doses), anti-malarial drugs and certain diuretics used for heart and kidney problems. Work with your doctor to manage medications and monitor your hearing before and during treatment.

The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show with pediatrician Jim Sears, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, ER physician Travis Stork, and plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon. Check