Hearing loss is one of the most common chronic health conditions people experience today. Nearly 1 in 6 people have some degree of impaired hearing. Hearing loss affects a person’s capacity to absorb and process sound which produces various symptoms that strain communication – a critical way we navigate daily life. While some causes of hearing loss are not preventable, others are. This means that there are strategies and safety measures you can practice to prevent the development of hearing loss. A few healthy habits you can follow to protect your hearing include the following:
- Wear hearing protection. A common cause of hearing loss is loud noise. Exposure to loud noise just one time or regularly can permanently damage the auditory system which is the sensory system for hearing. We are exposed to everyday noises that can be hazardous to hearing – commuting on a train, using power tools, kitchen appliances like blenders, etc. It is important to know that noise-induced hearing loss is preventable! Wearing hearing protection is an effective way to reduce the amount of loud noise you absorb, reducing your risk of developing impaired hearing.
There are different types of hearing protection including earplugs, earbuds, headphones, and earmuffs. These items provide a physical barrier for the ears which reduces the soundwaves that are absorbed. Hearing protection is highly accessible and portable so you can easily carry earbuds or headphones with you. This allows you to access this when moving through a noisier environment – while commuting, going by a construction site or busy traffic, or if you work in a loud environment.
- Eat a nutritious diet. The benefits of eating healthy are widely known – boosts energy, decreases health risks, supports air and blood flow, etc. But a healthy diet can also support hearing health. Various studies show that healthier dietary patterns can reduce the risk of hearing loss. This includes a 2019 study that showed that people who followed healthier dietary patterns were: 25% less likely to develop high-frequency hearing loss and 30% less likely to develop mid-frequency hearing loss. These dietary patterns were high in plant-based foods, contained no processed foods, and emphasized whole grains as well as meat and alcohol in moderation.
Also, several nutrients and vitamins support hearing health including potassium, magnesium, folate, and B12. Incorporating these beneficial nutrients as well as eating more healthful diets can reduce health risks that are associated with hearing loss, like cardiovascular disease and hypertension.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise also offers numerous benefits including supporting brain health. Strengthened cognitive function and capacities are also great for hearing health because the brain plays a key role in how we process and understand sound. Studies have shown that both intermittent and consistent forms of mild exercise improve cognitive performance. So take a daily walk or engage in other forms of exercise that you enjoy.
- Sleep well. Getting quality sleep is essential for your overall health. But according to the National Sleep Foundation: 35% of adults do not receive the recommended amount of sleep per night (7-9 hours) and 50-70 million adults have a sleep disorder. In addition to producing the symptoms of poor sleep – irritability, fatigue, inability to focus – poor sleep can impact brain and hearing health. So be sure to create the most optimal conditions to get quality sleep. This includes creating a night routine that helps calm you, avoiding screens at least 30 minutes before sleeping, investing in the most comfortable bedding for you, etc.
- Regularly test hearing. Another great habit to protect your hearing health is to have your hearing tested regularly. This allows you to track your hearing health and identify any changes you may experience. Catching hearing loss and symptoms early enables you to intervene and get treatment which can significantly support your hearing health by preventing the impairment from worsening. Hearing tests are painless and noninvasive tools that measure your hearing capacity in both ears. Experts recommend getting a hearing test every year and just incorporating this into your annual health check-ins
Integrating these healthy habits into your life can protect your hearing health and wellness. To learn more and to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation, contact us today.