Taking care of your hearing is important for staying connected and engaged as you age. Follow these seven practical tips to maintain and even improve your hearing health.
1. Visit a Hearing Clinic
Getting a hearing test by an audiologist is important for monitoring your hearing over time. If you notice any decline in your ability to hear conversations, especially in noisy environments, it’s wise to get checked out.
Audiologists, like the ones at Hear Clear NI hearing care clinic, use state-of-the-art equipment to evaluate your hearing and discuss options ranging from hearing aids to cochlear implants. Catching and addressing any issues early can help prevent further deterioration.
2. Limit Exposure to Loud Noises
Protect your ears from sustained loud noises, which can permanently damage hearing over time. This includes loud music through headphones, power tools, noisy hobbies, and concerts.
If you can’t avoid a loud environment, use properly fitted earplugs to block some decibels. Take regular breaks from the noise as well. Be extra cautious to limit loud noise exposure for children.
3. Clean Ears Properly
Use safe methods to keep ears clean from excess earwax, which can block sound from reaching your eardrum. See your GP if you notice excessive buildup.
Avoid inserting cotton swabs or small objects into your ears, which can cause injury and compact earwax. Gently rinse ears with warm water or saline solution after swimming to prevent infections.
4. Eat Nutritiously
Eat plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables to support ear health. Foods high in vitamins C and E, magnesium, potassium, and zinc have been linked to reduced risk for hearing issues like age-related hearing loss and tinnitus. Include fish, nuts, seeds, citrus, berries, tomatoes, spinach, and broccoli in your regular diet. Stay hydrated as well.
5. Do Ear Exercises
Simple exercises can increase blood flow to your ears and keep tiny muscles in shape to protect hearing. Try chewing motions to activate muscles that stiffen with age. You can also cover one ear at a time and focus on identifying ambient sounds which trains your ears. Checking that both ears hear equally well is important, too.
6. Get Enough Sleep
Chronic sleep deprivation is linked to a higher risk for age-related hearing problems. Lack of quality sleep prevents your ears from fully recovering and repairing the damage that naturally occurs daily. Adults should aim for 7-9 hours per night. Establish good sleep habits like limiting screen time before bed.
7. Stop Smoking and Limit Alcohol Intake
Smoking restricts blood flow, including to the delicate hair cells in your inner ear. The toxins in cigarettes can also accelerate age-related hearing decline. While moderate alcohol intake may have heart benefits, heavy and long-term consumption can contribute to ringing in the ears or early hearing loss.
Being attentive to changes in your hearing, getting regular check-ups, and following healthy lifestyle habits can help you retain good hearing for decades longer. Don’t hesitate to see an audiologist or ENT if you have any concerns with your ear health to protect your hearing long-term.