The new year is an exciting time that offers a fresh start. Many of us use this time to set new goals and intentions for the year. Making health centered resolutions is a great way to kick-off the year. You can do this by prioritizing better hearing – an essential facet of your overall health and quality of life – and practicing these tips in the new year:
- Schedule a hearing test. Though hearing loss is the third most common chronic medical condition people experience today, it is widely undertreated. Over 48 million people have some degree of hearing loss but only a third of people who could benefit from treatment actually receive it. Examining widespread inaction on hearing loss, the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association conducted a study. They surveyed nearly 2,500 people and 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.
This highlights that hearing is often not tested even though it is such a common health condition. Getting your hearing tested regularly is important, even if you do not suspect hearing loss. It allows you to understand where your hearing health is which establishes a baseline from which your hearing can be compared to. Hearing evaluations involve a painless and noninvasive process that measure even the slightest symptoms, allowing for early intervention.
- Maximize hearing aid use. Hearing aids are the most common way hearing loss is treated. These electronic devices are savvier than ever before, offering a range of technologies and features that deliver sharp sound quality and increase connectivity. In addition to innovative features like wireless connectivity, digital noise reduction, and tinnitus management; there are also numerous accessories that enhance hearing aid performance. Be sure to discuss all of these technologies with your hearing healthcare provider.
- Exercise. Exercise offers many health benefits including supporting healthy hearing. It encourages healthy blood flow and circulation which supports the body’s symptoms, including the auditory system – the sensory system for hearing. There are simple ways you can increase your physical activity including: stretching everyday, taking a daily walk, and exploring activities like: swimming, golfing, biking etc. which are more physically active.
- Adjust diet. Healthy dietary patterns are also associated with healthier hearing. A significant study that highlighted this was conducted by researchers at Harvard Medical School. Researchers found that people following healthful diets were 30% less likely to develop hearing loss. These diets consisted of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, whole grains, and fish. This offers higher intake of a number of nutrients that support hearing health. Nutrients like magnesium, potassium, folate, zinc, and Vitamin C. boost the auditory system. This new year, integrate more of these food groups and nutrients in your everyday diet.
- Reduce loud noise exposure. One time or consistent exposure to loud noise is a common cause of hearing loss. Noise induced hearing loss occurs when sensory cells in the inner ear are damaged, reducing their capacity to process soundwaves effectively. Forutenaly, 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 provide a barrier for the ears, reducing the amount of loud noise you absorb.
- Take listening breaks: the ears and brain are continuously absorbing and processing sound. Taking 5-10 minutes listening breaks throughout the day gives the auditory system a helpful break.
- Lower volume settings: be sure to maintain lower volume settings on electronic devices like the TV, phone, speaker etc. These devices can reach hazardous noise levels.
- Avoid loud noise: you can do this by avoiding noisy settings like restaurants, especially during peak hours and opting for quieter environments. Also, avoiding certain routes to bypass construction sites and/or heavy traffic is useful.
- Avoid triggers. Studies show that smoking and drinking increase the risk of developing hearing loss. Nicotine and alcohol can damage blood vessels and restrict blood flow in the inner ear which is where sound is processed. This new year, eliminate these habits to reduce your risk of hearing loss.
Practicing these strategies can signal protect your hearing health. Contact us to schedule an appointment for a hearing consultation so we can assess your hearing. We look forward to seeing you in the new year!