In today’s world, hearing loss is quickly becoming a global health concern. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by the year 2050, almost two and a half billion people will experience hearing loss.
And while we can’t completely eradicate hearing loss from the planet, on an individual level we can both advocate for expansion of treatment and incorporate healthy habits that may help us protect our healthiest hearing for decades to come.
Manage your listening environments
Among the WHO’s more recent initiatives, thye warn that young people are especially at risk of future hearing loss due to unsafe listening practices. But it’s not just teenagers and young adults who expose themselves to frequent excessively loud volumes. As our world relies more on remote work and school, we have all added hours on our devices. We use our earbuds and headphones for work, school, socialization, gaming, entertainment and even to listen to music.
The benefits of making all of these spaces more accessible by moving online are many. However, the drawback is the potential damage to our hearing health. On average, a set of earbuds can emit volumes of up to 95 or even 110 decibels. With those numbers, our ears are put at risk with even a few minutes of exposure.
How noise hurts hearing
Our ears evolved over the course of hundreds of thousands of years that were much quieter. With the industrial revolution and the ability for mechanical amplification, we’ve cranked the volume up significantly and expected our ears to adapt. However, the tiny cells of the inner ear are sensitive to excessive volumes that exceed 85 decibels (a level considered at the high end of safe).
Over time, excessive noise harms these cells that are responsible for collecting sound from the world and transmitting it to the brain via the auditory nerve. As they die, they do not reproduce. Instead, we send incomplete information to the brain, which is how we first experience hearing loss. We call this type of hearing loss noise-induced. As we lose access to certain frequencies, it becomes increasingly difficult to discern speech. You might find yourself asking ‘what?’ a lot more often in conversation.
How to protect against noise-induced hearing loss
Intentionally cultivate good listening habits like keeping your volumes at halfway and never turning it up past two-thirds of maximum volume. If you participate in loud hobbies like live music viewing, season ticket holder at sporting events or even jet skiing and snowmobiling, then you should always carry and use hearing protection. A set of noise canceling headphones or custom earplugs might be the barrier between you and noise-induced hearing loss.
Initiating healthy living habits
Incorporating lifestyle habits that will lower your risk of age-related hearing loss, which is when those tiny inner ear cells deteriorate due to the natural aging process, is a more subtle art.
By developing a mild or moderate exercise routine, you can help your body deliver good nutrients to your ears and brain in the form of fresh, oxygenated blood flow. This can also help you to manage cardiovascular or cardiac issues that contribute to hearing loss by depriving your organs and tissues of important resources.
Prioritizing a diet rich in fruits and green, leafy vegetables provides essential vitamins and nutrients for your hearing health. Be sparing in your consumption of red and processed meats. Instead, seek protein in fatty fish and legumes.
Cigarettes and alcohol
Limiting the use of alcohol and tobacco also promotes the environment for healthy hearing. Cigarette smoking and excessive drinking have also been linked with higher rates of hearing loss in a number of studies.
Manage diabetic conditions
Sudden changes in blood sugar levels create a toxic environment for the cells of your body and the inner ear cells are no exception. Consult with your physician or diabetic support system to find tools to help you manage diabetes and pre-diabetes, both of which can be linked with higher levels of hearing loss without proper care.
Schedule a hearing consultation today
If you think you are experiencing hearing loss, schedule a consultation today. Our team of highly trained hearing experts will lead you through a simple hearing exam after which we can begin to explore routes to your healthiest hearing.