Do people say that you listen to the TV to loud? Has “what” become a frequent word in your vocabulary? You're not alone: Approximately 35 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss.1
The hearing aid industry has seen impressive advances in hearing aid technology. However, there are several easy and natural things you can do on your own that may help your sense of hearing before any sort of professional intervention becomes necessary. Listen up to the following recommendations.
Get Some Exercise (No Gym Required)
Your ears detect sounds, but it's your brain that interprets them. Here are a few activities that can strengthen your brain’s hearing comprehension skills that might help make you a better listener:
Go for a walk in the woods, on the beach or in a similar setting with little man-made noise. Focus on your surroundings from birds chirping to the wind blowing and write down the noises you hear. Repeat this exercise 3-4 times a week to gradually become more attuned to the ambient noise.
Have a loved one read aloud to you from a book or magazine on an unfamiliar topic. After each sentence, try to repeat exactly what was said. Once you're able to consistently repeat the sentences word-for-word, try the exercise again with the TV on in the background or in a noisy restaurant.
Pass the Vitamins
Several vitamins and minerals have been linked to an improvement in ear function and hearing.1
Folic acid promotes circulation to your ears, as well as energy production in the cells responsible for hearing.
Magnesium aids healthy nerve function in the auditory system and helps prevent damage to the inner lining of your arteries.
Zinc protects the hair cells within your ear, which are responsible for emitting the vibrations that send electrical signals to your brain. Zinc also supports your body's immune system, helping prevent ear infections.
B vitamins offer a host of potential benefits for your ears, including regulation of fluid levels and optimization of oxygen use.
Skip the Smokes
If smokers need yet another health-related reason to quit, here it is: Research indicates that this habit can more than double your risk of hearing loss.2 That's because blood flow and oxygen are crucial to maintaining healthy cells in your inner ear, and both are hampered by nicotine and carbon monoxide. Smoking also irritates the lining of your middle ear and disturbs the normal function of your Eustachian tube. Nicotine has been shown to cause ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and some experts believe it may interfere with the neurotransmitters that carry messages from your hearing nerve to your brain.2
Also known as cerumen, ear wax is a natural defense mechanism that protects the inside of your ear from foreign particles, bacteria and infection. It is secreted by special glands located in your outer ear, and varies in color and consistency from person to person.
While a small amount of ear wax is beneficial, a buildup of excess ear wax can cause mild hearing loss and discomfort. If you suspect you have a blockage, see your doctor. Never attempt to dig it out yourself, as you risk impacting the wax farther into your ear and damaging the delicate lining of your ear canal or eardrum.3