How to Prevent Hearing Loss & Reduce Its Impact

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hearing loss is on the rise globally. While they estimate currently that a staggering 466 million people suffer from hearing loss worldwide, they fear that this number will rise to around 900 million by 2050 if understanding how to prevent hearing loss and reduce its impact doesn’t change on an institutional and societal level.  While not all types of hearing loss are preventable, there are steps you can take to lower your risk of developing age-related hearing loss and/or noise-induced hearing loss. 

It’s never too early to start protecting your hearing. Remember that any change in the world must happen one person at a time. While more accessible hearing healthcare, including hearing aids and testing, would increase support for people worldwide, you can start by taking these steps to protect your hearing. Don’t be afraid to let others know and join the fight against world hearing loss!

How We Hear

While our ears collect sound from our environment, these sounds must travel to your inner ear, where tiny hair-like cells called stereocilia transform them into electrical impulses that can be received by the auditory cortex in the brain. This is where speech is interpreted and sounds are identified. Many factors can damage the stereocilia from loud sounds, certain medications, impact on the head, and some chronic diseases.
While hearing loss is often unpreventable, we offer some lifestyle changes to minimize the risk.

Manage your blood pressure and cardiac health

Many people are surprised to discover that cardiovascular health is hearing health as well. When you understand the importance of stereocilia in preventing hearing loss, it makes more sense. The heart supplies oxygenated blood to every cell of the body. When this process is interrupted or unregulated due to hypertension or heart issues it can deprive the cells of the inner ear the nutrients they need, increasing the likelihood of damage and hearing loss. Maintain heart health with regular cardiovascular exercise and a balanced diet rich in vegetables, whole grains, fruits, and lean proteins while minimizing fats and processed sugars. 

Stop smoking and vaping, and limit drinking

Even most smokers know that it’s bad for your health. To add one more risk to the list, studies definitively show that cigarette smoke—whether directly, or secondhand, can affect hearing health. Meanwhile, another popular vice, the heavy use of alcohol, can damage the nerves in the brain which interpret sounds, causing hidden hearing loss which won’t show up on standard testing. While both these vices are extremely addictive, there are support groups to help you quit and open up a whole new chapter of your life with increased hearing health.

Keep diabetes under control

Research has shown that people with diabetes are twice as likely to have hearing loss. Diabetes inhibits the absorption of important blood sugar into its cells causing damage and of course this includes your inner ears as well. This link between diabetes and hearing loss can be mitigated, though.  Along with a balanced diet and regular exercise be sure to take diabetes seriously and follow your doctor’s orders.

Exercise and practice stress reduction

Here we go again—what isn’t exercise helpful for?! A healthy in shape person will have better blood flow throughout the body including supporting the ears.

Eat foods high in certain vitamins and minerals

Foods are not only delicious but often offer us supportive minerals and vitamins that they’ve absorbed from the soil. Certain minerals and vitamins found in plants and animal based foods can be supportive for our hearing. For instance, B12, potassium and magnesium support healthier cells that can withstand damage from outside factors such as noise exposure or aging.

Know your family history

Genetics can affect the likelihood of age-related hearing loss. If you know your family history, you can anticipate a loss and treat it before it becomes a larger issue, such as cognitive decline, depression, and social isolation. 

Noise Induced Hearing loss

There are sounds all around us. By knowing where and when we are being exposed we can make safer choices around our hearing health. This includes wearing hearing protection to reduce exposure as well as knowing when to turn down the volume and take listening breaks.

For more tips on how to protect your hearing and how to treat it if you do suspect you have hearing loss, make sure to contact American Hearing + Audiology today.