New Year, new you. It's the age-old saying with which we're all familiar. For many of us, January 1 marks the time when we set resolutions to better our lives. Breaking bad habits, losing weight, eating healthier, exercising more - these are the typical resolutions we've come to expect. We'd like you to entertain another one this year: maintaining/improving your hearing health. It may seem insignificant, but it is a simple resolution that can have a long-term impact on your life.
Not sure where to start? Here are a few tips:
1. Schedule a hearing test.
Even if you think your hearing is normal, regular hearing exams can detect even the smallest changes in your hearing. The earlier these changes are detected, the better the outcome. Here's a general guideline for hearing tests by age group:
- Ages 18-45 - Every 5 years. This may sound frequent for such a young age group, but this is the age where many environmental noises impact hearing - technology, concerts, workplace environments.
- Ages 45-60 - Every 3 years.
- Ages 60+ - Every 2 years.
If hearing loss is detected at any age, you should visit an audiologist annually for a thorough hearing exam.
2. Get a tune-up.
When was the last time you took your hearing aids in for a tune-up? Hearing aid wearers typically visit their audiologists at least once a year for a check up and professional cleaning. But, it's important that you tell your doctor about any technical difficulties or discomforts you're experiencing during this time so they can be addressed. Try taking notes in between appointments if you're having trouble hearing in certain situations so you'll remember to bring these up at your next appointment. Also ask if there are any newer hearing aid models that might be a better fit for you than your current ones. Your practitioner can tell you about other models that might solve whatever discomfort your current hearing aid is causing you, and educate you on any new advances in the field. We've featured several of these advanced technologies in recent blog posts:
3. Adjust your diet.
What you eat can ultimately impact how well you hear. A healthy diet made up of the following supplements can help preserve your hearing long term:
- Omega 3 fats and Vitamin D found in fish, such as salmon, tuna, trout, or sardines. Studies have shown that adults who ate fish twice a week had a 42% lower chance of facing age-related hearing loss than non-fish eaters. The main reason, researchers claim, is that Omega 3 fats strengthen the blood vessels in our ear’s sensory system.
- A regular intake of antioxidants, especially in the form of folic acid commonly found in spinach, asparagus, beans, broccoli, eggs, liver, or nuts, can reduce the risk of hearing loss by up to 20%. Antioxidants reduce the number of free radicals in your body, which can otherwise damage the nerve tissue in your inner ears.
- Magnesium, commonly found in bananas, potatoes, artichokes, or broccoli, has been shown to provide additional protection against noise-induced hearing loss.
- Zinc, found in dark chocolate (yes!), oysters, spinach, lean beef, and cashews, can increase your inner ear's resistance to age-related hearing loss, as well as help boost your immunity!
- Vitamins C & E found in many fruits and vegetables also help keep free radicals at bay and strengthen your overall immune system.
4. Quit smoking.
Kicking the smoking habit has many health benefits, as we're all well aware at this point. But, smoking also has an impact on your hearing. In fact, smokers have a 70% greater chance at experiencing hearing loss than non-smokers. We published a blog post for more about smoking's affects on hearing that you can read here.
5. Inquire about the latest assistive listening devices.
Do you struggle to hear during certain times of the day, such as when you’re watching TV or in a group atmosphere? How well do you hear on the phone? If you have difficulties with certain electronics or in certain environments, a wide range of assistive listening devices are available on the market to help fill in the gaps where your ears fail. These range from TV adapters to bluetooth smartphone devices to FM receivers. Visit the website of your hearing aid manufacturer, or ask your audiologist for these types of solutions to help improve your hearing health.
6. Protect your hearing.
Last but certainly not least, always make sure you’re protecting your hearing. Once you experience noise-induced hearing loss, there's no gaining it back. Pay close attention to noise levels, whether that be your work environment, your phone/TV volume, or everyday noises like the lawn mower and hair dryer. Keeping a pair of ear plugs nearby can greatly reduce your chances of hearing loss.
We hope this list has given you some ideas on how to maintain and improve your hearing health in the New Year. We wish you all happiness and good health in 2017.