Did you know that hearing loss is the third most common medical condition that people live with today? Over 48 million people have some degree of hearing loss. With 1 in 5 people having impaired hearing, you may know someone who lives with this condition. Hearing loss can take a toll on communication, relationships, social life, and overall health. This emphasizes the importance of practicing safety measures to protect your hearing health. Integrating the following strategies into your everyday life can prevent you from experiencing hearing loss:
- Wear hearing protection. Exposure to loud noise is a common cause of hearing loss. A great way to protect your ears and hearing is to wear hearing protection. This includes headphones, earbuds, earplugs, earmuffs etc. These items offer a physical barrier for the ears which reduces the amount of loud noise you absorb. Be sure to carry hearing protection with you so you can protect your ears while moving through environments that are noisier – while commuting, at concerts, work etc.
- Reduce your exposure to loud noise. In addition to wearing headphones, there are more ways you can reduce your exposure to loud noise. A few simple ways you can do this include: avoiding noisy environments, especially during peak hours (restaurants, bars) and opting for quieter places. Additionally, taking 5-10 minute listening breaks throughout the day gives your auditory system – the sensory system for hearing which includes the ears and the brain -time to rest and recuperate from constantly absorbing and processing sound. Additional ways include driving with your windows rolled up and taking alternative routes to avoid traffic and/or construction sites.
- Invest in noise canceling headphones. This is especially helpful if you regularly use earbuds or headphones to listen to audio. Noise canceling technology is designed to reduce background noise. This prevents you from needing to increase the volume on your device if you are moving through a nosier setting; allowing you to safely listen to audio in all environments.
- Get your hearing tested regularly. Hearing tests involve a painless and noninvasive process that measures your hearing capacities in both ears. This allows you to monitor your hearing health and identify any changes that you may experience over time. Catching these changes early and intervening can significantly support and protect your hearing.
- Measure and monitor noise levels. You can measure noise levels in various ways including downloading an app that measures the decibels in your environment. This allows you to be aware of noise levels so you can adjust your exposure time.
- Boost nutrient intake. There are different nutrients that support healthy hearing. This includes magnesium, potassium, folic acid, vitamins B and D etc. These nutrients support healthy blood flow, cells, nerves, and auditory pathways which are all critical components of how sound is absorbed and processed. You can increase your intake of these nutrients by eating more fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid triggers. Studies show that smoking and drinking can increase the risk of developing hearing loss. Experts suggest that nicotine and alcohol are active ingredients that can damage blood vessels, restricting blood flow throughout the body including the ears. This can impair the process of absorbing and processing sound, contributing to hearing loss. Reducing or eliminating your consumption is helpful for supporting your hearing health.
- Increase physical activity. Another healthy hearing habit is increasing physical activity. Exercise offers numerous benefits including supporting healthy blood flow and this benefits the auditory system and hearing health. There are simple ways you can increase your physical activity including taking a daily walk, stretching, and finding a physical activity you enjoy – golfing, biking, water aerobics etc.
- Maximize use of hearing aids. If you have diagnosed hearing loss and wear hearing aids, it is important to wear your hearing aid during waking hours. You can maximize the use of your hearing aids by exploring the various features today’s hearing aids offer. This includes digital noise reduction, wireless connectivity, tinnitus management, and voice recognition. Be sure to discuss these technologies with your hearing healthcare provider who can help you identify the features that are optimal for you.
Prioritize care for health conditions. A number of health conditions can increase the risk of developing hearing loss – cardiovascular disease, hypertension osteoporosis, diabetes etc. If you have any of these conditions, be sure to prioritize care for them!