March 3rd is World Hearing Day! Organized by the World Health Organization (WHO), this global call to action encourages people to prioritize their hearing health. You can do this by practicing healthy hearing habits including the following:
- Wear hearing protection: loud noise is a common cause of hearing loss. One time or regular exposure to loud noise can permanently damage the auditory system – the sensory system for hearing. It is estimated that over 50 million people are exposed to loud noises regularly. Also, according to WHO, over 1 billion people globally are at increased risk of developing hearing loss due to loud noise exposure. Noise induced hearing loss is completely preventable and an effective way you can protect your hearing health is by wearing hearing protection. There are various types of hearing protection including: headphones, earplugs, earbuds, earmuffs etc. These items provide a physical barrier for the ears, reducing the amount of loud noise that is absorbed. Hearing protection is portable, so carrying one of these items and accessing it when moving through noisier settings is a great way to protect your ears.
- Use noise canceling headphones: using headphones or earbuds has become a common way we listen to audio. From our favorite podcasts, to listening to music, or talking on the phone; headphones allow us to conveniently listen to audio. But they can also be hazardous for hearing health. Earbuds and headphones, depending on the device they are connected to, can reach up to 102 decibels which far exceeds the maximum for safe listening (85 decibels). A great way to alleviate this risk is to use noise canceling headphones. Noise cancellation technology is designed to reduce background noise which prevents audio from having to be increased when moving through spaces that are noisy. This allows people to listen to audio in all environments safely.
- Maximize use of hearing aids: hearing aids are essential items for millions of people with hearing loss. If you wear hearing aids, be sure to wear them during waking hours. There are ways that you can maximize your hearing aids and get the most out of them. This includes investing in different features and technologies designed to deliver enhanced sound quality and increased connectivity. Today’s features range from digital noise reduction, to tinnitus management, voice recognition, adn a downloadable app to easily manage settings. Be sure to discuss the latest features with your hearing healthcare provider.
- Boost intake of nutrients: substantial research shows that practicing healthy dietary ways of eating cna protect your hearing health. There are specific nutrients that support hearing health including: magnesium, potassium, zinc, and folate which support the health of cells, nerves, auditory pathways, and blood flow. You can increase your intake of these nutrients by having more fruits and vegetables and minimizing processed foods.
- Increase exercise: exercise is known to benefit health in many ways but did you know that exercise also supports healthy hearing? Exercise supports blood flow throughout the body including the ears which is where sound waves are processed. You can increase physical activity in many ways including taking a daily walk, stretching, and finding a physical activity you enjoy – swimming, golfing, biking yoga etc.
- Prioritize care for health issues: extensive research shows that several medical conditions can increase the risk of hearing loss. This includes heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and hypertension. If you have or are prone to having any of these conditions, it is important to prioritize care for this. Be sure to be taking all necessary medications and following any protocols outlined by your doctor.
- Eliminate triggers. There are also behavioral factors that can increase the risk of hearing loss like smoking and drinking. Key ingredients found in these substances – nicotine and alcohol – can damage the auditory system. Experts suggest that nicotine and alcohol can damage blood vessels and restrict blood flow, disrupting how sound waves are absorbed and processed. A useful habit you can practice to protect your hearing health is eliminating or reducing these behaviors as much as possible.
World Hearing Day is a great reminder to prioritize your hearing health adn wellness. Practicing these strategies is a helpful way to support your hearing health.