As we age it is more important to take care of our hearing faculties. Here are 7 essential health and nutrition tips to promote and maintain proper hearing.
By Nancy Mitchell, RN
Hearing is just as important as your sight and other senses. Optimal hearing allows you to effectively listen, understand, communicate, and socialize, translating to a quality life. In fact, better hearing equates to better living.
But as you grow older, your body deteriorates, not to mention your sense of hearing. The chance of developing hearing problems increases with age. And about one-third of older people are already suffering from hearing loss.
As such, taking good care of your hearing faculties is essential. While they don’t necessarily cure existing hearing disorders, proper nutrition and healthy habits will help prevent some hearing problems.
Thus, this page shares seven essential hearing tips for seniors. Read on to learn how to promote and maintain good hearing health.
7 Health and Nutrition Tips To Promote and Maintain Proper Hearing
Hearing problems are prevalent. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition in the U.S., twice as widespread as diabetes or cancer.
Age is one of the primary factors for hearing problems among adults. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, one in three Americans aged 65 to 74 has hearing loss and half of those older than 75 have hearing difficulty.
But while aging affects hearing health, adopting a healthy lifestyle and proper nutrition can promote optimal hearing. Below are seven essential hearing health tips for seniors.
1. Choose Foods Best for Hearing
You’ve heard the phrase: you are what you eat. What you consume can impact what you become and how you interact with people as you age. But did you know that proper nutrition contributes to good hearing?
As such, maintain a balanced diet by choosing foods abundant with nutrients best for optimal hearing health. Pick those rich in vitamins and minerals, such as the following:
- Potassium (banana, pineapple, potato, spinach)
- Magnesium (almond, avocado, tomato, broccoli
- Zinc (shellfish, cashews, dark chocolate, whole grains)
- Folic Acid (beans, rice, pasta, leafy greens, citrus fruits, and lentils)
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids (salmon, sardines, and mackerel, as well as walnuts and flaxseeds)
- Antioxidants (berries, leafy greens, and citrus fruits)
Additionally, make sure to limit your salt and sugar intake. Excessive amounts of these can have detrimental effects on your hearing health. Overall, good food ensures good hearing.
2. Always Stay Hydrated
Proper eating is one thing; drinking plenty of water is another. So take the popular health advice: drink eight glasses of water daily. While it’s good for your overall health, proper hydration is vital for your hearing health.
Drinking enough fluid ensures your body, including your inner ears, stays hydrated. Sufficient hydration supports your blood circulation and drives oxygen to your ears. As a result, that maintains your auditory functions and promotes overall health.
3. Have Regular Exercise
In general, working out is good for your overall well-being. But did you know exercise is also highly recommended for your hearing health? It helps improve blood circulation throughout your body, including your ears. As such, it helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to your auditory system.
John Gardner, co-founder and CEO of Kickoff, promotes healthy living through proper nutrition and regular exercise. “We’ve had clients of all ages looking to stay healthy as they grow old. But what surprised me is how working out can go as far as maintaining my senior clients’ hearing health. It’s amazing how regular exercise is all-encompassing!”
4. Quit Smoking
It’s no secret how smoking is bad for your health and overall well-being. But specifically, it poses a significant risk to your sense of hearing health. How? Smoking can narrow the blood vessels in your body, including those in your inner ear. It blocks the connections between your middle ears and the back of your throat, known as the eustachian tubes.
Furthermore, cigarettes consist of toxic chemicals. When you smoke, these chemicals can cause damage to the hair cells in your inner ear, which can escalate to hearing loss over time. Therefore, quitting smoke can help reduce your risk of developing hearing problems.
5. Manage Your Stress
Did you know that stress can negatively impact your hearing health? Take, for instance, ringing in your ears when you’re stressed out. A high-stress level can lead to certain hearing conditions, such as tinnitus, and worsen existing hearing issues.
How does stress affect hearing? Getting exposed to high levels of stress consistently can
release your adrenaline and cortisol hormones. When elevated, these hormones can cause temporary and escalate to permanent hearing loss.
Nancy Mitchell, RN at Assisted Living, recommends stress management among older people. “Stress is the biggest contributor to early demise. That’s why we help seniors keep their stress levels down through regular exercise, proper meditation, pursuing hobbies and interests, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”
6. Protect Your Ears
Taking proactive measures is crucial for protecting your ears from potential damage. According to the World Health Organization, nearly half of the people aged 12 to 35 years get exposed to unsafe sounds using personal audio devices. What will happen as they grow older?
Dan Petkevich, founder and CEO of Fair Square, promotes comprehensive Medicare coverage. He mentioned a recent act that seeks to expand Medicare coverage to include hearing exams and aids. However, he emphasized the need for ear protection through the following measures:
- Stay away from excessive noise.
- Avoid loud music.
- Wear earplugs.
- Stop using cotton swabs.
- Keep your ears dry.
7. Get Regular Hearing Exams
Doctors advise individuals to have regular checkups to promote health and well-being. The same applies to fostering hearing health among seniors. As they always say, prevention is better than cure.
As such, get hearing exams regularly to monitor your hearing health and detect potential problems early on. Hearing specialists can perform various tests to evaluate your hearing ability. They can then provide proper guidance and early interventions, such as using hearing aids.
Final Words: Sound Nutrition for Healthy Hearing
Maintaining proper hearing is vital to ensure your health and overall well-being. As such, consider the seven essential tips for promoting good hearing health. Follow the healthy habits and nutrition practices recommended above.
Remember, taking good care of your hearing faculty is best for ensuring a quality life. As you grow older, you’ll still manage to stay connected with your loved ones and enjoy the sights and sounds!
Nancy Michtell is a registered nurse and with over 37 years of experience in geriatric nursing care and a contributing writer for AssistedLivingCenter.com.