Did you know that, according to AARP, more than 48 million Americans have some type of hearing loss that seriously disrupts their life? What’s more, that includes 1 in 6 baby boomers and two-thirds of those over 70. And as our boomers age that number is expected to rise significantly in the future.
Hearing aids address this frustrating issue; however they are an unwanted expense and stigma for some people. Fortunately, there are proven strategies to protect and improve your hearing that don’t involve hearing aids. In a nutshell, a healthy body and mind are much less susceptible to hearing loss. Here are five lifestyle tweaks that can preserve your ears for years.
Get Your Heart Pumping!
Cardio exercise — walking, running, cycling — helps to improve blood flow to your ears, which is good for your hearing. Wear a helmet for biking because a fall that results in concussion can harm your hearing.
Make Friends With Ear Protection:
Protect your hearing and avoid loud situations whenever possible. Earplugs do more than dull the sound of a snoring spouse. They can protect your ears from the loud noise of machinery like lawn mowers and power tools. Comfortable plugs and noise-canceling headphones are widely available in stores and online.
Keep Ears Clean
Ears need a certain amount of wax for protection, but too much wax can block hearing. If you feel you have excess wax in your ears, use an earwax removal kit over the course of a couple of nights. The solution will soften the earwax, and it will flow out.
Load up on Ear-Friendly Foods
Those healthy foods that keep your body humming are also great for your hearing. Potassium-rich foods (bananas, apricots, melons) are especially beneficial in combating age-related hearing loss. Additionally, foods rich in folate (beans and avocados) are important to maintain good hearing. You’ll also want to load up on omega-3 rich foods, such as nuts, fish and olive oil, that help ward off age-related hearing loss. And don’t forget to pile on the leafy greens that are high in zinc, folic acid and potassium, which all prevent hearing loss.
You may also want to add a couple scientifically powerful antioxidants – alpha lipoic acid (ALA) and acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC) – to your daily routine. These two antioxidants were found to reduce age-related deterioration and to improve inner ear function.
Researchers believe that this was due to the antioxidants ability to protect and repair damage. To test his theory, one clinical trial used 21, two-year old rats. These “senior citizens” of the rodent world were divided into three groups of seven rats each. For six weeks, one group was given acetyl-L-carnitine (ALC), the second was given alpha-lipoic-acid (ALA), and the third was given a placebo sugar pill.
The hearing in the control group deteriorated a rate typical for animals of that age. However, the news was quite different for the other two groups. The control group lost anywhere from 3 to 7 dB of hearing, while the other two groups had 7 to 10 dB improvement in their hearing, with the greatest improvements occurring after six months of treatment.