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Struggling to hear the television? Always asking others to repeat themselves? You're not alone: Approximately 35 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss.1
While the field of audiology has seen impressive advances in hearing aid technology, there are several easy, natural things you can do on your own that may help hone your sense of hearing before professional intervention becomes necessary. Listen up to the following recommendations.
Get some exercise (No gym required)
Your ears detect sounds, but it's your brain that interprets them. Exercises that strengthen your brain's hearing comprehension skills might help make you a better listener. Here are two activities you can try:
- Go for a walk in the woods, on the beach or in a similar setting with little man-made noise. Focus on your surroundings and write down everything you hear, from birds chirping to the wind blowing. Repeat this exercise several days in a row to gradually become more attuned to the ambient noise.
- Have a partner read aloud to you from a book or magazine on an unfamiliar topic. After each sentence, try to repeat exactly what your partner said. Once you're able to consistently repeat the sentences word-for-word, try the exercise again with the TV on in the background or in a noisy restaurant.
Pass the vitamins
Several vitamins and minerals have been linked to an improvement in ear function and hearing.1
- Folic acid promotes circulation to your ears, as well as energy production in the cells responsible for hearing.
- Magnesium aids healthy nerve function in the auditory system and helps prevent damage to the inner lining of your arteries.
- Zinc protects the hair cells within your ear, which are responsible for emitting the vibrations that send electrical signals to your brain. Zinc also supports your body's immune system, helping prevent ear infections.
- B vitamins offer a host of potential benefits for your ears, including regulation of fluid levels and optimization of oxygen use.
Skip the smokes
If smokers need yet another health-related reason to quit, here it is: Research indicates that this habit can more than double your risk of hearing loss.2 That's because blood flow and oxygen are crucial to maintaining healthy cells in your inner ear, and both are hampered by nicotine and carbon monoxide. Smoking also irritates the lining of your middle ear and disturbs the normal function of your Eustachian tube. Nicotine has been shown to cause ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and some experts believe it may interfere with the neurotransmitters that carry messages from your hearing nerve to your brain.2
While hearing loss can't be reversed, you might be able to prevent it from getting worse with a few simple lifestyle changes. Early detection is key, however, so have your hearing checked annually. To learn how you can use a CareCredit credit card to pay* for hearing tests and hearing aids, visit www.carecredit.com.
Ear wax explained
Also known as cerumen, ear wax is a natural defense mechanism that protects the inside of your ear from foreign particles, bacteria and infection. It is secreted by special glands located in your outer ear, and varies in color and consistency from person to person.
While a small amount of ear wax is beneficial, a buildup of excess ear wax can cause mild hearing loss and discomfort. If you suspect you have a blockage, see your doctor. Never attempt to dig it out yourself, as you risk impacting the wax farther into your ear and damaging the delicate lining of your ear canal or eardrum.3
1. "What did you say? Natural ways to prevent hearing loss," NYR Natural News, Oct. 23, 2012, http://www.nyrnaturalnews.com/article/what-did-you-say-natural-ways-to-prevent-hearing-loss/, accessed Sept. 16, 2013
2. "Smoking and hearing loss," HealthyHearing.com, Jan. 10, 2013, http://www.healthyhearing.com/content/articles/Hearing-loss/Causes/50940-Smoking-and-hearing-loss, accessed Sept. 30, 2013
3. "Earwax blockage," MayoClinic.com, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/earwax-blockage/DS00052, 3. accessed Oct. 7, 2013
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All statements and opinions in "Natural Ways to Improve Your Hearing" are the sole opinions of the Healthy Hearing, Mayo Clinic, and NYR Natural News and not those of CareCredit. The content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual medical provider with respect to any professional advice presented. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms.