We use our sense of hearing daily, without a second thought. But that inattention could put us at risk. Here’s why.
Not paying attention to the health of our ears can lead to hearing problems. Which experts believe can, in turn, result in potentially serious issues.
So how does a person guard against the problems that hearing issues can bring? Here are the key ways you can maintain good ear health, no matter your age.
Watch the volume.
Hearing problems are not just a problem of seniors and your grandparents. Anyone who is exposed to noise pollution is at risk.
Music blasted out of speakers will not only get your neighbors in a tizzy, but can also do damage to your ear drums. Noise induced hearing loss (NIHL) happens when sounds damage the structures of our inner ears. The US Dept. of Health states that NIHL can happen to anyone of any age. In a study conducted by the CDC, they found that approx. 10 million adults have hearing loss from NIHL.
So how loud is too loud? Sounds are rated in decibel units. A refrigerator’s hum clocks in at 45 decibels. Whereas sirens are usually about 120 decibels. Long standing exposure to sounds that are above 85 decibels can cause NIHL.
Protect yourself from loud noises by closing windows if there is a ruckus outside. Keep the television set at a normal level. Have young children in the house? Or can’t do anything about noisy neighbors? Invest in noise-canceling headphones if you live in a noisy neighborhood.
If you are listening to something on headphones, it can be easy to set the volume too high. Keep it at a level where you can hear the audio, but not too much higher.
Treat ear infections right away.
If you get an earache, see a doctor if 24 to 48 hours pass with no improvement. Or, if the pain is very severe and it causes dizziness, fever, or swelling.
Often, ear aches are the result of bacteria infection in the ear. An outer ear infection may be the result of a swimming session, where germs in the water cause a bacteria outbreak.
Middle ear infections are often a result of fluid buildup, which can then make it easy for bacteria to spread. Additionally, sinus infections may cause earaches, as can foreign objects that get trapped in one’s ear.
Your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to help reverse the infection. If your earache is due to a wax clog, your doctor will remove the wax using any number of medically safe processes.
What to eat for ear health.
Just as there are foods that help improve the strength of one’s eye sight, there are things we can eat that can keep our ears in good health.
Having the right amount of fluid in your inner ear mechanism is what enables you to hear. And potassium is the mineral that supports inner ear fluid.
Bananas are a great source of potassium. But if you do not like bananas, there are many other foods that have an even greater amount of potassium than found in one banana. Other sources include:
- Sweet potatoes
- White potatoes
- Tomato sauce
- Frozen spinach
- Black beans
Folate or folic acid has been studied for its benefits in slowing down age-related hearing impairment. Where to find rich sources of folate?
- Fortified cereals
- Cooked lentils
- Enriched pasta
Don’t overdo on the ear cleaning.
Yes, having wax in your ears is not a pretty sight. But it serves an important purpose. That of keeping dust, dirt, and germs away from the inner parts of your ears.
This is one case where cleaning too well could lead to infections and inflammation. As without those natural filters, particles could contaminate your inner ear.
Keeping the outer ear clean is well and good, but do not overdo inner ear cleaning. Besides, if you push cotton Q tips too far into the ear canal, you could compact the wax, which will make the wax even harder to pull out. Instead of Q tips, use a damp cloth to clean the surface and easily reachable places of your ear. If you can’t reach it easily with a damp cloth, then you can safely leave it alone.
Less is more when it comes to ear hygiene.
Photo by Travis Isaacs