One of the most important aspects of our lives is the ability we have to listen. Our ears provide us with the capacity to hear the world around us, whether it be our favorite song or waves washing up on the shore. Our hearing is something that’s absolutely necessary for many of the jobs and things we do. Unfortunately, ear health and ear care are often overlooked and only taken into consideration when our hearing becomes impaired, usually with age.
Oftentimes, we’ll make sure to protect our eyes from the sun, protect our teeth from cavities by brushing, and protect our skin from UV damage by applying sunscreen, but many of us don’t take the same initiative to support our hearing. Once your hearing is damaged, it cannot be reversed, only supported by aids, therefore it’s important to take care of your ears while you can. In this blog post, we are going to break down some of the natural ways you can protect your hearing. We are also going to highlight the best supplements you can take to prevent and support hearing loss.
Anatomy and Physiology of The Ear:
There are three major parts of the ear:
- The Outer Ear: This part of the ear is the very first place that sound travels through. The pinna, which is the visible portion of the outer ear, will collect sound waves and channel them further into the ear canal. The pinna then funnels sound down towards the tympanic membrane, also located in the outer ear. This membrane separates the outer ear from the middle ear.
- The Middle Ear: This part of the ear is an air-filled cavity that resides between the tympanic membrane and the inner part of the ear. There are three bones located in the middle of the ear: The Hammer (attached to the eardrum), Anvil (in the middle of the bones), Stirrup (attached to the membrane that connects middle ear to inner ear)
- The Inner Ear: This part of the ear is made up of two main parts, the semicircular canals which control balance, and the cochlea which is the hearing portion.
There are several steps that place from the outer ear to the inner ear in order for a person to actually hear. It’s very important that these three parts are working in unison. Our hearing can be impacted when any part of the ear is not working in the way that it is supposed to.
7 Mindful Ways to Prevent Hearing Loss:
We live in a noisy world, especially if you’re someone who resides in the city or works in the music, film, or other auditory industries.
- Stop smoking: The research and studies have been clear for quite some time that smoking can have a number of negative consequences on our bodies. There are some of the more obvious health concerns that can be a result of smoking such as respiratory issues, cancer, and other diseases, but did you know that smoking also impacts hearing? Studies have actually found that compared to non-smokers, smokers actually have a 70% higher chance of developing hearing loss.
- Turning down the volume: This one may seem obvious but can sometimes be the most difficult to do. Right at our fingertips, we have the ability to put headphones on and jam out to our favorite artist at full blast. Right now it may seem harmless, but doing this habitually can actually have a serious impact on your hearing. Loud noises can damage the inner part of the ear (cochlea) as well as overwork the hair cells in the ear, causing them to die. How do you know if you’re listening to your tunes too loudly? Well according to WHO, if you’re listening to music at 95 percent of maximum volume for just 5 minutes a day continuously, this will result in hearing damage.
- Wearing hearing protection at loud venues: If you’re working in nightclubs, concerts, or other large and noisy venues regularly then it might be a good idea to invest in some earplugs. Long exposure to loud noises can not only result in long-term hearing damage, but also tinnitus which is a persistent or intermittent ringing of the ears.
- Eliminating ear wax buildup: Although ear wax can be pesky and annoying to deal with, it is actually your body’s way of cleaning and protecting the ears. Our ears produce ear wax as a way of supporting the ear and warding off infection or irritation. If you don’t properly clean out your ears, the wax buildup can become a problem. Temporary hearing loss and tinnitus can be a result of too much wax in your ears. If it gets to this point, the best thing you can do is to seek assistance from a medical professional to remove it. Do not try removing this wax with a q-tip as it can make the blockage worse!
- Get your hearing checked regularly: If you’re not having a hard time hearing or experiencing any other ear issues then most doctors recommend getting your hearing checked out every 10 years. As you get older, the risk of hearing loss increases, and getting your hearing checked out should become more frequent.
- Give your ears a break: If you’re working at an office job, you might not even notice that you’re exposed to some sort of sound all day! You may have plenty of meetings with headphones on or listen to music at a loud volume to give you that energy boost while working. With all of this constant sound going on it’s definitely a good idea to give yourself a break at some point in the day and sit in silence. This won’t only give you peace of mind, but it will also give your ears a break and reduce pressure.
- Take your vitamins: One of the best ways you can help your body thrive all-around is by taking quality supplements and vitamins. It’s not always easy to meet all of the daily nutritional requirements every day, therefore supplements can play a great role in helping you feel your best. If you keep on reading we will let you know about 6 of the best supplements you can take for ear health and hearing loss!
6 Best Supplements for Ear Health:
Before we share some of the best supplements you can take for your ear health and hearing, we want to preface that none of these are a cure. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill to reverse hearing damage, but by leading a healthy lifestyle and consistently getting enough vitamins, enzymes, and nutrients you may start to feel improvement.
- Zinc: This mineral is one of the best immune boosters for the body. Although zinc is naturally occurring in some foods such as whole grains, milk products, oysters, red meat, and nuts, many of us may not be eating these foods consistently. Supplementing with a quality zinc capsule, liquid, or gummy can help ward off germs, heal wounds, and even treat tinnitus!
- Vitamins A, C, and E: Free radicals are atoms or molecules that cause damage to cells and can promote illness and aging. Studies have shown that the combination of Vitamins A, C, and E provides the body with antioxidants that can override free radicals. This is important to keep in mind because the build-up of free radicals can contribute to illnesses that impact hearing. You’ll do good for your body all-around by taking these vitamins.
- Vitamin B12: A double-blind, controlled study took a group of individuals between the ages of 18-and 60 with chronic subjective tinnitus and wanted to test the effects of B12 for alleviation of their symptoms. Group A received 1ml of Vitamin B12 weekly for a duration of six weeks and Group B received 1ml of saline as a placebo. The findings from this study found that 50% of individuals in group A who had vitamin B12 deficiency saw significant improvement in their tinnitus symptoms. This goes to show that there may be a strong like between vitamin B12 deficiency and tinnitus.
- Folate: A few studies have found a link between low levels of folate and loss of hearing in individuals over 60 years of age. Folate is a natural source of Vitamin B9 and can be found in foods like dark leafy greens, peanuts, beans, seafood, and more. You can also supplement with folic acid, which is the synthetic form of folate.
- Magnesium: This amazing supplement plays a variety of crucial roles within the body from supporting the nervous system, managing blood sugar levels, combatting depression, and improving PMS symptoms. Did you know that it can also relieve the severity of tinnitus symptoms? Magnesium keeps the blood vessels relaxed, including the vessels located in the inner ear.
- Resveratrol: This antioxidant is a powerful one that is found in blueberries, raspberries, mulberries, and even red wine. Since resveratrol is an antioxidant it helps protect the body against illnesses and aging, but studies have even been done showing it might reduce noise-induced hearing loss.
Our health is the most important thing we have, that’s why we always advocate for being proactive instead of reactive. When it comes to protecting your hearing, starting early is always better than starting too late! By being more mindful of how you treat your ears and the kinds of supplements you’re taking, you will be able to keep good care of your hearing in the long run.