PROTECT YOUR HEARING

Since permanent hearing loss is irreversible, it is very important to slow and prevent hearing damage any way we can. Here are a few tips to help you protect your hearing now and prevent hearing loss in the future.

1.    Reduce the Volume

Entertainment is everywhere: music follows us with our earbuds, we watch TV at home and listen to the radio in the car on the way to the movie theater, restaurant or ball game.

The World Health Organization found that over 1 billion teens and young adults in the world are at risk for noise-induced hearing loss as a result of audio devices.

If you enjoy listening to music or other entertainment through earbuds, protect your hearing by following the 60/60 rule: listen with headphones or earbuds no more than 60 minutes per day at no more than 60% volume. 

Over-the-ear headphones are also recommended instead of ear buds, because they expose the ear drum to less direct sound waves.

2.    Use Ear Protection

Noise in our environments like concerts, sporting events, a factory work setting, lawnmowers and other loud tools can contribute to noise-induced hearing loss, even if we are only occasionally exposed.

Approximately 15% of adults in the U.S. have hearing loss that is a result of environmental noise.

One very easy way to protect you hearing and prevent hearing loss is to carry earplugs. Earplugs are inexpensive, compact, and very helpful in preserving hearing. They can be purchased cheaply at almost any local drug or grocery store. Musicians and others that need special features can purchase custom earplugs that allow them to hear conversations and music while still limiting exposure to loud noise, for example. Ask your audiologist if custom ear plugs may be right for you.

3.    Recovery Time After Exposure

If you are in a particularly loud environment, like a concert or club, try to take 5 minutes to step away from the noise several times to allow your ears to rest.

Also, our ears need at least 16 hours of quiet to recover from a loud night out.

4.    No Need for Cotton Swabs

 Cotton swabs are both unnecessary and not recommended for cleaning the ears. Ear wax serves an important function in protecting our ear canals. Our ears are self-cleaning, and wax helps to prevent dirt, dust and bacteria from entering the ear canal and reaching our brains. Inserting anything too far into the ear jeopardies the sensitive ear drum, so don’t risk it.  

If you have excess wax, try cleaning your ears with a damp towel or with an earwax softening solution. If you think you have an overproduction of wax, ask your audiologist if anything else should be done.

5.    Avoid NSAIDs Whenever Possible

Over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs, or NSAIDS, such as ibuprofen, aspirin and naproxen can cause hearing loss. This is called ototoxicity. It is often temporary but over time can become permanent, so take these medicines sparingly.

6.    Cut Out Stress

Tinnitus (ringing in the ears) can be triggered by high levels of stress. Anxiety and stress are well-known to limit blood circulation. In addition, it tenses up the body and puts pressure on the nerves. Take some time today and every day to relax. Think about the things for which you are grateful: thankfulness is a confirmed stress relief!

7.    Get Moving!

Exercise that that gets your heart pumping improves circulation to your whole body, including your ears. Any movement counts: walking, running or riding a bike are all great. Blood and oxygen flow are vital to the inner parts of the ear and help your hearing to function optimally.

8.    Dry is Best

Infections such as swimmer’s ear can be caused by moisture trapped in the ear canal. Infections can affect hearing ability either temporarily or even permanently. Gently dry your ears with a towel after bathing or swimming. If moisture can still be felt in your ears, lay down on the affected side or tilt your head and pull gently on your ear lobe to allow the water to come out naturally.

Ear plugs designed specifically for swimming are also great to prevent water from getting trapped in the ear canal. Ensure the ear plugs fit well, or moisture can still seep in and get stuck in your ear canal. If you do a lot of swimming, it’s a good idea to ask your audiologist about swimming ear plugs.

9.    Annual Screenings

Annual hearing exams are vital to hearing health. Hearing loss happens progressively, and often is overlooked until it has developed significantly. With regular screenings, you can catch hearing damage before you notice it yourself to prevent further loss.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening. We can discuss hearing aid options with you and work with you to find one that fits your budget.

HOW MINERALS CAN PROTECT YOUR HEARING

You’ve heard it before: be sure to get all your vitamins and minerals! Some people swear by a multi-vitamin supplement and some like to get all the needed nutrients from food. Either way, most people understand that getting enough vitamins and minerals is important for optimal health. It’s common knowledge that Vitamin C and zinc can boost immunity and calcium can benefit bones and teeth. But did you know that there are minerals that are important to maintain healthy hearing as well?

Why do we need minerals?

Minerals are inorganic elements that are found in rock and soil; they are essential, meaning the body needs them and does not manufacture them on its own. We get minerals by eating vegetables that absorb them from the soil in which they are grown, as well as from the meat of animals that have grazed on vegetation.

A few important minerals for hearing health are potassium, folate, magnesium and zinc.

Potassium helps to regulate the fluids in our blood and tissues. Our inner ears contain fluid that is crucial to helping our bodies translate noise into understandable sounds. Thus our brains are dependent on this fluid, and a rich supply of potassium, to hear and understand the world around us.

Fortunately, potassium is easily found in common foods such as tomatoes, bananas, yogurt, spinach, potatoes, raisins, lima beans, melons, milk and oranges. Getting a healthy variety of fresh, whole foods in your diet and “eating the rainbow” can assure you get plenty of potassium.

Folate is an important nutrient for new cell growth in the body. Folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, is also available in supplement form, though it is best to try to get folate from food such as spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and organ meats.

Magnesium is another important mineral that has been shown in studies to protect against hearing loss. Magnesium can help to combat free radicals that are produced when exposed to very loud noises, protecting the hair cells of the inner ear. Magnesium also contributes to healthy blood vessels, which deliver valuable oxygen to the ear, crucial to hearing health.

Magnesium can be found in a variety of delicious foods, including artichokes, bananas, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes and broccoli.

Zinc is an immune-booster for the body, as you may know from some supplements on the market that contain zinc and claim to ward off cold and flu viruses. Zinc also assists with cell growth and wound healing. Some studies have found zinc effective in treating tinnitus and ear infections as well, though it can sometimes interact with pharmaceutical antibiotics and diuretics.

Zinc is found in foods such as pork, dark-meat chicken and pork, cashews, almonds, lentils, split peas, beans, peanuts, oysters and dark chocolate. Good news for nutty dark chocolate lovers!

The great news is that as long as you’re getting a balanced diet of fresh, whole foods, you are probably getting a good balance of these minerals and other nutrients that contribute to hearing health.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.