Though not all forms of hearing loss are preventable, there are ways you can help prevent noise induced as well as age-related hearing loss. Nearly 1 in 6 people have some degree of hearing loss. Impacting over 48 million people, hearing loss is a pervasive health issue people live with today. This highlights the importance of protecting your hearing health which is tied to overall health, wellness, adn quality of life. There are several habits you can practice that significantly reduce your risk of hearing loss and support your hearing health. A few strategies include the following:
- Reduce exposure to loud noise. Loud noise is a common cause of hearing loss. One time or regular exposure to excessive noise can permanently damage the sensory cells in the inner ear. This prevents or reduces their ability to send auditory information to the brain – a crucial step in how sound is processed. The brain receives less auditory information which causes hearing loss. An effective way to prevent noise induced hearing loss is by reducing your exposure to loud noise. There are various ways you can do this include:
- Maintaining low volume settings on electronic devices like the TV, phone, speaker etc.
- Taking alternate routes to avoid traffic and construction sites as well as driving with the windows rolled up to reduce environmental noise.
- Avoiding environments with higher levels of background noise. Opt for quiet spaces when going out.
- Take listening breaks throughout the day to provide your ears and brain with a break from absorbing and processing sound.
- Wear hearing protection like headphones, earbuds, or earmuffs while participating in loud activities like concerts, sports games, commuting etc.
- Increase intake of specific nutrients. Extensive research shows that following healthier diets can help protect hearing health. There are specific nutrients and minerals that support the auditory system – the sensory system for hearing. This includes magnesium, potassium, zinc, and folate which support the health of cells, nerves, auditory pathways, and blood flow. These nutrients can be found in plant based foods like fruits and vegetables. Healthier ways of eating also involve reducing processed foods and sugars.
- Prioritize care for health conditions. Substantial studies show that a number of medical conditions increase the risk of developing hearing loss. This includes cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes, and osteoporosis. These conditions can affect blood flow, bone health, and the sensory cells – all of these components are integral to effectively absorbing and processing speech and sound. It is important to prioritize care for these conditions if you experience them. This includes taking all necessary medications as well as following doctor prescribed regimens.
- Eliminate hearing loss triggers. In addition to existing medical conditions people may have, there are specific behaviors that can also trigger hearing loss. This includes smoking and drinking which contain ingredients that can damage the auditory system. Studies show that people who smoke and drink can experience a higher risk of impaired hearing. Experts suggest that nicotine and alcohol can damage blood vessels and restrict blood flow, impacting how sound waves are absorbed and processed. A useful habit you can practice to protect your hearing health is eliminating or reducing these behaviors as much as possible.
- Increase physical activity and manage stress effectively. The benefits of exercise are widely known about. But often under recognized is that exercise also supports healthy hearing. Exercise promotes blood flow which supports the cells in the ears that help process sound. There are simple ways you can increase physical activity including taking a daily walk and stretching. Exercise is also a useful way to manage stress – a factor that can exacerbate hearing loss and symptoms. Identifying stress and working to manage stress healthity is also important for hearing health. In addition to exercise, try breathing exercises and/or engaging in calming activities like gardening or yoga.
Another habit we highly recommend practicing is getting your hearing tested regularly. Integrating a hearing test in annual health check-ins is a great way to monitor your hearing health. This allows you to catch any changes you may experience early on which helps protect your hearing health. Contact us today to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation, we look forward to helping you prioritize your hearing health.