Nearly 1 in 5 people have some degree of hearing loss, one of the most common medical conditions that people live with today. Over 48 million people have hearing loss, making it the third most pervasive health condition that people experience. Practicing healthy hearing habits can help you protect your hearing health, reducing your risk of developing hearing loss. Integrating the following safety measures in your everyday life is a great way to support healthy hearing:
1. Wear hearing protection. Headphones, earplugs, earbuds, earmuffs etc. are examples of hearing protection. These items protect the ears by providing a physical barrier, reducing the amount of loud noise you absorb. This is a great way to prevent noise induced hearing loss which is caused by one time or regular exposure to loud noise. Be sure to wear hearing protection when navigating noisy environments – social settings, work, commuting etc.
2. Take listening breaks. Your auditory system – the sensory system for hearing that includes the ears and brain which work together to absorb and process speech as well as sound – is constantly working to process and understand the sound you hear. Taking 5-10 minute listening breaks throughout the day is a great way to give this system time to rest and recuperate.
3. Use noise canceling headphones. If you regularly use headphones or earbuds to listen to audio – podcasts, music, talking on the phone – you may want to consider investing in noise canceling options. Noise canceling technology reduces background noise which prevents you from needing to turn up the volume when your environment gets louder. This allows people to listen to audio safely in all environments.
4. Test hearing yearly. It takes an average of 7 years to address hearing loss symptoms. Delayed treatment can worsen hearing loss and the multifaceted effects it can have on everyday life. Getting your hearing tested regularly allows you to monitor your hearing health and identify any changes you may experience. This supports early intervention which can significantly protect your hearing health.
5. Measure noise levels. It is important to be aware of the noise levels that you are exposed to. You can download an app to measure decibels so that you can then adjust noise levels accordingly. Experts recommend using the 50-60% rule which describes keeping your device at 50% – 60% of the maximum volume. Maintaining lower volume settings allows you to safely listen to audio.
6. Boost nutrient intake. There are several nutrients that support healthy hearing including: magnesium, zinc, folic acid, and potassium. These nutrients help prevent ear infections, support healthy blood flow, regulate fluid levels in the ears etc. which help soundwaves be absorbed and processed effectively. You can increase your intake of the nutrients by integrating more plant based foods – vegetables, fruits – into your diet.
7. Avoid triggers. Extensive research shows that smoking and drinking can increase the risk of hearing loss. Nicotine and alcohol, which are the active ingredients being consumed, can affect blood vessels and blood flow in the ears. Avoiding these triggers by eliminating or reducing them can support your hearing health.
8. Increase physical activity. Exercise is another way to support healthy hearing. You can do this by taking a daily walk and/or finding a physical activity you enjoy – biking, water aerobics, yoga, golfing etc. Exercise supports healthy blood flow, reduces health risks, increases energy, helps with reducing stress etc. which all benefit hearing health.
9. Maximize use of hearing aids. Hearing aids are essential items for people with hearing loss. You can maximize your use of your hearing aids by taking advantage of the many technologies that today’s devices offer. This includes digital noise reduction, wireless connectivity, tinnitus management, voice recognition and much more. You can discuss these features with your hearing healthcare provider who can help you navigate your options.
10. Prioritize care for health conditions. Studies show that a number of medical conditions can increase the risk of hearing loss. This includes heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and hypertension. If you have any of these conditions, it is important to prioritize care for them.
Practicing these healthy habits can benefit your hearing health tremendously. Contact us today to learn more about how you can best support your hearing health and the resources that you can access to help you protect your hearing!