Hearing loss can be a major problem as you get older. But that doesn’t mean you need to suffer in silence.
In the April issue of Insiders’ Cures, I wrote about how food and nutrition can support hearing and prevent— or even reverse—the hearing loss that commonly accompanies aging.
Today, I’d like to discuss some easy, effective lifestyle changes you can make that will also help maintain and improve your hearing.
How modern technology is sabotaging your hearing
Unfortunately, mainstream medicine ignores the natural approaches to prevent and reverse hearing loss, focusing instead on high-tech hearing-aid devices.
But ironically, as the mainstream looks to technology as a solution for hearing loss, it turns out that technology itself is actually the problem.
In the “old days,” blasting loud music from car radios, “boom boxes,” and live concerts was bad enough. But now, hearing experts say that the widespread use of earbuds and headphones has amplified the problem by channeling loud noises directly into the ear canal. (Not to mention the dangers of walking around or driving in a bubble without hearing your surroundings.)
And these earbuds and headphones are usually connected to smartphones and personal audio players. The widespread use of these devices allow for non-stop streaming of music, movies, and more. This results in constant overstimulation and damage to your hearing.
Both of these newer sound hazards lead to high-frequency hearing loss—similar to the type of damage caused by loud gunshots, for example. Studies have shown that this type of hearing loss is typically not detected by many routine hearing tests.
So what can you do to protect yourself?
Four simple steps to better hearing
First, if you’re already struggling with hearing loss, consult an audiologist. Unlike ear, nose, and throat doctors, audiologists take a holistic approach to hearing. Sure, they may recommend hearing aids or cochlear implants, but they also specialize in creative problem solving and social skills. Meaning, they’re not averse to recommending lifestyle changes and other natural approaches to support your hearing.
Next, lower the volume. Hearing experts recommend the 60/60 rule: Keep the volume on your device below 60 percent when using earbuds or headphones, and only listen for a maximum of 60 minutes per day.
And if at any time you hear ringing in your ears after you pull out your earbuds—or if the noise around you sounds muffled—it’s absolutely time to turn down the volume.
Third, rethink your cell phone use. I keep an old-fashioned flip phone for emergencies when I’m away from my home or office. Every 6 months or so, I purchase $50 worth of minutes.
When I go to the cell phone store to buy time for my phone, I’m often met with disbelief from younger clerks that I still get by with my “ancient” cell phone.
Truthfully, I prefer email. I find that email communication is even more efficient than a phone call. And email is virtually silent, which will save your ears from the sonic strain of a telephone.
Of course, there will be times when you do need to take a call. Which brings me to my fourth and final recommendation…
Put your cell phone on speaker. The further the device is from your ear, the less opportunity for high-frequency hearing loss.
That’s it! Just four simple lifestyle recommendations that can make a significant difference in protecting one of your most valuable assets— your hearing.