Have You Heard the News? You May Be Able to Improve Hearing Loss Naturally!
Hearing loss is a common and normal part of aging. In fact, it can start as early as your 20s and increase over time!
While hearing problems are normal, they do not need to define everyone’s story. CaptionCall breaks down each type of hearing loss and investigates natural options that can help protect and improve your hearing. Are you listening?
Types of Hearing Loss
There are three types of hearing loss, each affecting different parts of the ear:
- Sensorineural: This is the most common type. It is classified as permanent hearing loss caused by damage to either the auditory nerve or the cilia in the inner ear.
- Conductive: This hearing loss is caused by an obstruction in or damage to the middle or outer ear. Typically, conductive hearing loss leaves auditory nerves undamaged, and it can be temporary or permanent.
- Mixed: This is a combination of sensorineural and conductive hearing losses. This means that a blockage or damage in your middle or outer ear may make your sensorineural hearing loss worse.
Knowing where your hearing loss falls on the spectrum helps you address it better. Where does yours fall?
Age-Related Hearing Loss
Age-related hearing loss affects one in three adults over 65 years old. Known to the medical world as presbycusis, it is defined as a gradual hearing loss in both ears. It is estimated that by 2025, 1.2 billion adults will suffer from significant hearing loss, increasing the figure to one in every two adults who will experience presbycusis issues.
Related issues can occur in the inner ear, middle ear, or auditory nerves. They are caused by a variety of factors, including:
- Family history (age-related hearing loss tends to run in families)
- Repeated exposure to loud noises
- Smoking (smokers are more prone to hearing loss than nonsmokers)
- Certain medical conditions, such as diabetes
- Certain medicines, such as chemotherapy drugs for cancer
Natural Ways to Improve Hearing Loss
There are quite a few natural options you can try to improve your hearing health. Keep in mind that ears are delicate: Any options you try should be done with care. If your hearing issues worsen, make an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible.
Clear the Ear Wax
Ear wax buildup worsens hearing loss because it prevents sound waves from reaching the inner ear. This natural blockage should be safely removed on a regular basis to help maintain hearing, as it is one of the leading causes of conductive hearing loss.
Avoid using Q-tips, ear wax candles, or any sharp instruments to clear the wax from your ears. Instead, follow this easy home remedy to treat the ear canal naturally:
- Soften the wax — Add a few drops of baby oil, mineral oil, glycerin, or hydrogen peroxide into the ear canal to help soften the wax.
- Flush with warm water — Once the wax is softened (usually after a day or two), gently squirt warm water into the ear canal. The warm water should flush out the softened wax and clear the blockage. Make sure to tilt your head to the side to let all of the water drain out of your ear!
- Dry your ear — After removing the wax, gently dry your outer ear with a towel.
Drink Ginger Tea
Tinnitus, classified as perceiving a noise or ringing in your ears, can be a symptom of age-related hearing loss. As pressure levels in the ear change, they can trigger tinnitus and other hearing issues.
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon cilantro
- 1 teaspoon rosemary
- 1 teaspoon sage
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
Separately, use 4 cups of water to steep three pieces of ginger. Combine ginger water and boiled spices for your hearing-helping tea. Enjoy your tea warm, or let it cool and serve it over ice for a refreshing drink!
Boost Brain Function
Does it seem counterproductive to work on brain health while dealing with hearing loss?
The Perelman School of Medicine may have discovered a direct connection between hearing loss and gray matter atrophy, or brain shrinkage. Because they have to work harder to listen to and understand the sounds they are hearing, individuals with decreased brain activity in the auditory cortex may struggle to understand simple and complex speech.
To improve gray matter atrophy, submit your brain to workouts! Solving puzzles is a great mental workout that gets the blood pumping throughout your brain, thus helping to improve your overall hearing.
Consider the following games to keep your brain sharp and your ears in better condition:
- Crossword puzzles
- Word searches
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Card games
Break a Sweat
With just a 30-minute workout five times a week, you improve your overall health — including your hearing! The tiny hairs in your ears (cilia) are responsible for the majority of your hearing, and they need good blood flow to keep them healthy and functioning.
Just as working out your brain increases blood flow to the area, working out your body increases blood flow to your ears.
Participate in any physical activity that you enjoy, including walking, hiking, yoga, gardening, and more to give your hearing the boost it needs!
Nix the Nicotine
Smokers are at high risk for hearing loss, with roughly 60% developing high-frequency hearing loss as they age.
Smoking can affect hearing in a number of ways, including:
- Interfering with neurotransmitters in the auditory nerve
- Irritating the Eustachian tube and lining of the middle ear
- Making a person more sensitive to loud noise
- Increasing risks for developing noise-induced hearing loss
It’s time to kick the smoking habit in favor of hearing health.
Lower the Volume
Listening to sounds, such as music, at a loud volume can damage your hearing, especially if done for prolonged periods of time. This can cause noise-induced hearing loss, which includes the following symptoms:
- Hearing unclear mumbling sounds when others talk
- Having pain in your ears after being exposed to loud noises
- Trouble hearing yourself, causing you to speak loudly or shout
- Developing tinnitus
Everyday noises, even at lower volumes, can lead to some form of hearing loss over time. Try to avoid loud, prolonged noises to help protect your ears.
Consider Using Hearing Protection
While we should aim to prevent what hearing-loss issues we can, it’s important to also protect and preserve the hearing we do have. There are a few different ways you can protect your hearing as you age.
Loud noises are a huge culprit for hearing-related issues, as they contribute to roughly 15% of hearing loss cases. With earplugs, you can muffle loud noises and decrease the number of sound waves that enter the ear canal. Find some that sit snugly in the outer ear canal for the best results. If you have a career that involves loud noises, you may be interested in custom-fitted earplugs for continual, everyday use.
Earmuffs function similarly to earplugs, but they protect the entire ear instead of just the outer ear canal. Your earmuffs should form an airtight seal around your ear for the best results. You can also use them in conjunction with your earplugs for up to 15 decibels of protection!
Add Vitamins and Minerals
Whether you add them through the food you eat or from supplements, vitamins and minerals can improve your hearing health. Speak with your doctor before adding any of the following vitamins and minerals to your diet. Remember — there is no perfect cure for hearing-related issues.
Potassium may help balance the natural fluid in the inner ear and in the part of the brain that translates noise into recognizable sounds.
Potassium-rich foods include:
- Lima beans
According to the Kresge Hearing Research Institute, magnesium can help guard against noise-related hearing loss. It acts as a natural barrier for the cilia in the inner ear and boosts oxygen in the blood, which also helps with hearing.
Magnesium-rich foods include:
- Fruits and vegetables
Zinc-rich foods include:
- Dark chocolate
Omega 3s are known for their anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties, but there is more to them than meets the eye. They assist brain function and the communication between the brain and the ear to improve your hearing. The best thing about Omega 3s is that they have been shown to reduce the risk of age-related hearing loss by over 40%!
Omega 3-rich foods include:
- Flaxseed oil
- Krill oil
- Soybean oil
Boost Hearing with Apps
Technology has come a long way, and innovation has introduced apps and online programs to help train and improve hearing. Play on these apps and programs for just a few minutes each day, and you will be on your way to maintaining and improving your hearing health!
This app allows users to listen to words in a simulated environment. You can set this environment to be quiet or noisy. As you practice, you will be able to hear better in any situation and improve your overall hearing. AB CLIX is only available for iPad.
LACE Auditory Training
These 20-minute lessons help adults and children with hearing loss. With their assistance, you can train yourself to hear and communicate better in difficult situations. LACE is available for desktop, iPad, and Android.
If you don’t want to use apps or computer programs, you can train your hearing at home with auditory training.
There are a number of different practices, including:
- Simulating noisy situations and practicing conversations
- Closing your eyes and having someone move around you quietly as you try to pinpoint the direction of the sound
- Practicing sound isolation by sitting with your eyes closed and trying to identify the sounds around you
Ready to Hear Better?
Try these natural options to improve hearing and decrease hearing loss. If you have hearing loss that necessitates the use of captioned telephone service and you qualify, CaptionCall can help you stay connected to the world. So, whether you’re clearing out ear wax, adding vitamins and minerals to your diet, participating in auditory training, or you qualify for CaptionCall service, you are on the path to improved hearing!