Preventing Hearing Loss

Whether you want to prevent hearing loss or have already experienced hearing loss, there are many steps you can take towards hearing loss prevention.

Exercising and hearing loss

Exercising can benefit your heart, your brain, your joints, your… hearing? According to the Mayo Clinic, exercise can help with weight loss, prevent a cornucopia of diseases (many of which come with the side effect of hearing loss), boost your mood, boost your energy, and promote better sleep. Hearing may not be listed directly, but exercise can and will impact your hearing health in a variety of ways.

A study on the link between female obesity and hearing loss found that women who were more active had a 15 percent lower risk of hearing loss than those who were less active. The women considered more active in the study walked at least two hours every week. That’s less than 20 minutes per day! Women who only walked one hour or less each week were considered less active and did not see this benefit.

Exercise not only helps prevents future hearing loss, but it also helps treat some of the side effects of existing hearing loss. There’s a strong link between hearing loss and depression, and research shows that exercise is an effective but underused treatment for mild to moderate depression. Exercising causes your brain to release feel-good endorphins, which automatically boost your mood.

There are many ways to maintain healthy hearing, including the use of ear protection when exposed to loud noises or to prevent and treat ear infections. But, as we’ve learned, a healthy lifestyle with plenty of exercise and a balanced diet can also help prevent or delay hearing loss.

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Foods that will help your hearing

What you eat can ultimately impact how well you hear. Keep an eye on the following ingredients while cooking. Some food can help maintain hearing levels, or even help prevent hearing loss in the first place.

Antioxidants & folic acid and hearing loss prevention

A regular intake of antioxidants, especially in the form of folic acid commonly found in spinach, asparagus, beans, broccoli, eggs, liver, and nuts, can reduce the risk of hearing loss by up to 20 percent. Antioxidants reduce the number of disease-causing pathogens that can damage the nerve tissue in your inner ears. Heed your mother’s words: eat your veggies!

Magnesium and hearing loss prevention

Magnesium, commonly found in bananas, potatoes, artichokes, and broccoli, has been shown to provide additional protection against noise-induced hearing loss. Still, eating a bunch of bananas won’t protect your ears and prevent hearing loss if you attend a concert!

Zinc and hearing loss prevention

You can increase your inner ear’s resistance to the boon of age-related hearing loss by consuming a healthy dose of zinc. This can be found naturally in dark chocolate and oysters, to name a couple of sources.

Vitamin C and E and hearing loss prevention

Similar to antioxidants, Vitamin C and E can keep disease-causing pathogens at bay and strengthen your overall immune system, thus reducing the risk of ear infections. These vitamins can be found in fruits and vegetables.

Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D and hearing loss prevention

The high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D generally found in fish, such as salmon, tuna, trout, and sardines, can help prevent hearing loss. Studies have shown that adults who ate fish twice a week had a 42 percent lower chance of facing age-related hearing loss than non-fish eaters.

One study at Brigham and Women’s Hospital sampled more than 65,000 women over 18 years. For women who had two or more servings of fish, their risk of developing hearing loss was 20 percent lower than women who ate very little or no fish.

Shellfish, too, were shown to decrease the risk of hearing loss, as foods such as shrimp, lobsters, and scallops are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

More research is needed to understand the exact mechanisms by which omega-3 fatty acids help prevent hearing loss. It is currently postulated that omega-3 fatty acids may increase blood flow to the cochlea, a part of the ear that is vital for healthy hearing. Medical conditions like obesity can limit blood flow to the cochlea, leading to an increased risk for hearing loss.

One thing is sure—the nutrients in fish are the ear’s friend! To get the recommended dose of omega-3 fatty acids, have salmon or other fish at least twice a week. If you’d like to avoid eating fish, many grocery stores carry omega-3 fatty acids pill supplements.

Hobbies to help hearing loss and aging

The best way to treat hearing loss is to prevent it before it happens. There are certain activities and hobbies that have been proven to help prevent hearing loss, especially as we age. We put together a list of the top ten hobbies and activities to exercise our ears and our brains.

Video games

Video games are no longer just for kids! Studies show playing video games can help lessen the negative effects of aging in people older than 60. Just keep the volume down to avoid damage to your ears and hearing loss.

Restoration

Interested in old cars, boats, or motorcycles? The detailed work, creativity, and necessary troubleshooting of restoring old machines is a great hobby to maintain cognitive health. Avoid hearing loss or hearing damage by wearing earplugs or earmuffs if you’re working with loud tools.

Walking

Walking regularly is incredibly beneficial for all aspects of health, and the AARP has even designed a program for people over 50 to organize their own community walking groups. Walking also has the added benefit of being a social activity, which has been proven to stimulate brain function.

Computers

In this day and age, being computer savvy is integral for keeping up with friends and family that may be scattered around the country or the world. Studies have shown that older adults who use computers were less likely to experience mild cognitive decline as they aged. Find a game that you like, find articles to read, or just keep up with social media!

Bird calls

Listening to bird calls has a positive impact on your overall health and well-being, and bird calls can even signal safety or danger to us. Listening to bird calls is a soothing hobby that won’t damage your hearing.

Theater

If you have a dramatic streak, performing is a great way to counteract the effects of aging on your brain and your ears. Exercises like memorizing lines, singing songs, and learning dance numbers can keep your brain occupied and improve cognitive function. In addition, hearing needs to be sharp in order to hear and understand fellow actors, so theater participation may alert you to any hearing loss.

Swimming

Swimming is a great hobby for many reasons. It promotes physical fitness as well as improves mental and cognitive health, especially when done in a group. Group swim classes, popular with older adults and senior citizens, are fun, social activities that keep the brain sharp. Just make sure to wear waterproof earplugs and take precautions to avoid swimmer’s ear. Remember to take your hearing aid out before diving in!

Art

Did you know Georgia O’Keeffe continued to paint until she was 96 years old? The act of creating art, whether it’s painting, sketching, sculpting, or even quilting, has a great impact on brain health. These hands-on activities, particularly tasks like following, understanding, and imitating (especially visual art), boost cognitive activity.

Reading

A lifetime of reading may stave off dementia and memory loss, according to studies. Reading helps keep brain circuits active and increases thinking, learning, and memory abilities. Reading is a good hobby for avoiding hearing loss, as it is quiet and gives your ears time to rest if you’ve been in noisy places.

Meditation

An ancient practice, meditation is now considered a very brain-focused activity. Studies have found that long-term meditation can help maintain the aging brain. Those who meditated for an average of 20 years actually had more grey matter volume throughout their brains, indicating healthier brain function! Meditation is also great for your ears, because it’s a quiet and calm activity that allows your ears to rest and recuperate after long days in noisy environments.