The New Year is a great invitation to commit to health and wellness. Prioritizing better hearing is a key facet of overall health and quality of life. Hearing loss is the third most common health condition people experience today. Nearly 1 in 6 people have some degree of hearing loss and though it is common, it is widely undertreated. You can protect your hearing health by practicing the following healthful strategies in the new year:
- Schedule an appointment for a hearing test. Hearing tests involve a painless process that measures hearing capacity in both ears. Conducted by a hearing healthcare specialist, hearing tests identify your hearing needs which are used to tailor treatment to meet those needs. Comprehensively assessing your hearing health is the first step towards treatment. People often delay a hearing test, in fact it takes an average of 7 years for hearing loss symptoms to be addressed. Though acknowledging changes to your hearing health can be tough, it is important to know that there is effective and accessible treatment that is available to you. The first step is to schedule this appointment which we encourage you to do for the new year!
- Maximize use of hearing aids. The most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. These are electronic devices that are designed to help absorb and process speech as well as sound. This critical support helps the ears and brain, alleviating symptoms and making it easier to hear. You might be thinking of hearing aids as a bulky and all too noticeable device. But today’s hearing aids are actually sleeker and more advanced than ever before. There are numerous styles, features, and technologies that deliver amazing sound quality and increase connectivity. Hearing aids are designed to create personalized hearing experiences that support your hearing in everyday environments. Today’s devices are wearable pieces of technology that seamlessly integrate into daily life. There are also a number of accessories that maximize the performance of hearing aids which you can talk to your hearing healthcare provider about.
- Practice healthy eating. Studies have shown that eating healthy contributes to a number of health benefits including supporting hearing health. A significant study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology showed that people following healthy dietary patterns were 30% less likely to experience hearing loss. These patterns resemble commonly recommended healthful diets that emphasize vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, and elimination of processed foods. There are also specific nutrients you can integrate into your diet that boost hearing health. This includes: magnesium, folate, potassium, and vitamin C which can be found in many vegetables and fruits.
- Exercise. Increasing physical activity also supports healthy hearing. Exercise promotes blood flow throughout the body including the inner ear. The inner ear is where soundwaves are processed before being sent to the brain. There are simple ways you can increase physical activity including taking a daily walk, stretching, or finding a physical activity you enjoy. This includes swimming, biking, golfing etc.
- Avoid smoking and drinking. Numerous studies highlight that there are modifiable risk factors that contribute to hearing loss. This includes smoking and drinking which can contribute to impaired hearing. Experts suggest that nicotine and alcohol can damage blood vessels which restricts blood flow throughout the body including the inner ear. Eliminating (or reducing as much as possible) these behaviors is a helpful way to protect your hearing health.
- Reduce exposure to loud noise. Loud noise is a common cause of hearing loss. Noise induced hearing loss can be caused by one time or consistent exposure to loud noise. There are several ways you can reduce your exposure to excess noise levels including:
- Wear hearing protection like headphones, earplugs or earmuffs. This provides a physical barrier for the ears, protecting them from absorbing loud noise.
- Avoid places with excessive background noise, especially during peak hours. Opt for quieter settings that you can comfortably hear and communicate in.
- Take listening breaks throughout the day by powering off sources of noise. Taking 5-10 minute breaks throughout the day provides your ears and brain with time to rest and recuperate from always observing and processing sound.
- Maintain low volume settings on your electronic devices – TV, phone, speaker etc.
These strategies can significantly protect your health and wellness. Contact us to schedule an appointment for a hearing test in the new year!