The New Year is an exciting time to set intentions and goals for the year. This fresh start offers a perfect opportunity to commit to your health and wellness. Practicing the following strategies in the new year is a great way to protect your hearing health which is a key facet of your overall health and quality of life.
- Schedule a hearing test. Though hearing loss is the third most common, chronic health condition that people live with today, it is widely undertreated. In a study conducted by the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association, researchers found that:
- 2 in 10 adults have had a hearing test in the past 5 years, compared to 6 in 10 adults who have had their vision tested.
Even if you do not suspect hearing loss or symptoms, have your hearing tested is still important. It allows you to monitor your hearing health and track any changes you may experience. Hearing tests detect even the slightest changes which allows you to intervene early, protecting the hearing that you do have. A hearing test involves a painless and noninvasive process that measures hearing capacities in both ears. Once your hearing needs are established, your hearing healthcare provider is able to tailor treatment to meet those needs.
- Increase physical activity. The benefits of exercise are well known: increases energy, supports the immune system, and reduces health risks. But did you know that exercise also supports healthy hearing? Exercise promotes healthy blood flow in the ears which supports all the integral components of the auditory system that absorb and process sound. You can increase physical activity by taking a daily walk, stretching, or finding an activity that you enjoy – biking, golfing, swimming, yoga etc.
- Adjust diet. Studies have shown that what you eat can also impact hearing health. Research shows that healthier diets can support hearing health by decreasing the risk of hearing loss. A major study that highlights this was conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School. Researchers found that people who followed healthy dietary patterns were 30% less likely to experience hearing loss. This includes diets rich with vegetables, fruit, legumes, nuts, and fish. These food groups are rich with numerous nutrients that support hearing health including: magnesium, potassium, folate, and zinc. Integrate more of these foods into your diet in the new year.
- Explore hearing technologies. In addition to hearing aids which are the most common treatment for hearing loss, there are other hearing technologies that support hearing health. This includes assistive listening devices and hearing aid accessories. Be sure to discuss these technologies with your hearing healthcare provider and see what you can most benefit from in everyday life.
- Reduce loud noise exposure. Loud noise is a common cause of hearing loss. One time or regular exposure to loud noise can cause noise induced hearing loss by permanently damaging the sensory cells in the inner ear. But this type of hearing loss is completely preventable. Practicing the following safety measures can significantly reduce your risk:
- Wear hearing protection: this includes headphones, earplugs, and earmuffs which offer a physical barrier for the ears. This reduces the amount and impact of loud noise you absorb.
- Take listening breaks: the ears and brain are constantly working together to absorb and process speech and sound. Taking 5-10 minute listening breaks throughout the day provides time to rest and recuperate.
- Lower volume settings: electronic devices that we use everyday can reach hazardous noise levels. Be sure to lower your volume settings on your TV, phone, speaker, headphones etc.
A few additional tips include to avoid noisy settings, especially during peak hours and opt for quieter spaces.
- Avoid triggers. Studies show that smoking and drinking can increase the risk of developing hearing loss. Nicotine and alcohol are active ingredients that can damage blood vessels and restrict blood flow throughout the body including the ears. This reduces the capacity for soundwaves to be absorbed and processed effectively, contributing to hearing loss. Decrease or eliminate your intake in the new year to protect your hearing health.
Practicing these strategies in the new year can significantly protect your hearing health and wellness. Be sure to start by contacting us to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation. We look forward to seeing you in the new year!