When you think about keeping certain parts of your body healthy, your ears may not be the first thing that comes to mind. Ear health is very important because there are a lot of different ear issues that can affect anyone at any time.
Most people are familiar with age-related hearing loss but don’t worry about it until later in life. However, there are other ear diseases that can happen at earlier stages of life. Here are a few things you can do to protect your hearing and keep your ears healthy.
When you’re listening to music, a TV show, a podcast, or even an audiobook, it’s important that the volume isn’t too loud— especially if you’re wearing headphones. There’s a thing called the 60/60 rule, in which the volume of whatever you’re listening to isn’t turned up past 60% and you’re not listening to it for more than 60 minutes.
In the past, many people were probably taught to clean their ears out with Q-tips and then were surprised to learn later on that doing so could cause damage to the ears. Q-tips seem like efficient ear-cleaning tools because they fit perfectly into the ears, but this is also the very reason why they should not be used. Our ears are actually self-cleaning, and using Q-tips can cause damage to the eardrum.
Did you know that there are foods you can eat to keep your ears healthy? Your ears are an organ, so certain nutrients can help them function in the proper way.
Folate plays an essential role in circulation and proper circulation keeps the inner ears healthy. Bananas, broccoli, brussel sprouts, eggs, kale kidney beans, lemon, liver, peanuts, sunflower seeds, and whole grains are all good sources of folate.
Magnesium helps improve nerve function, which is helpful for your ears if you’re exposed to loud noises often. Magnesium-rich foods include almonds, avocados, bananas, brazil nuts, cashews, dark chocolate, flaxseeds, kale, legumes, pumpkin seeds, salmon, spinach, and whole grains.
Omega 3 fatty acids can help slow or even prevent age-related hearing loss. Foods high in omega 3s are fortified eggs and milk and fatty fish (salmon, sardines, tuna, etc.).
Too much or too little fluids in the ear can be problematic, and potassium is known to help regulate fluid levels in the body. Eat apricots, avocados, bananas, cantaloupe, coconut, cucumbers, eggs, mushrooms, oranges, peas, spinach, and watermelon for good sources of potassium.
Zinc is known to boost the immune system, which is helpful when fighting off ear infections. Zinc-rich foods include beans, crab, dark chocolate, garlic, kale, lentils, lobster, mushrooms, oysters, peanuts, pork, pumpkin seeds, spinach, and yogurt. Certain teas, such as ginseng, are also known to boost the immune system.
Too much moisture in the ear allows bacteria to grow, causing swimmer’s ear and other types of ear conditions. If severe enough, it can cause hearing loss too. This is why many swimmers opt to use earplugs specifically for swimming. Water can also enter the ears when showering/bathing. If you feel water in your ears, tilt your head to allow the water to drain out.
Speaking of earplugs, many people work in environments where it’s noisy all or most of the time (e.g., construction sites). If your workplace is extremely noisy most of the time, you should consider getting earplugs to protect your hearing. It’s also important to do your research on the type of earplugs you want to buy. There is currently a recall on dual-ended earplugs that were distributed to service members in the military. Unfortunately, these earplugs were faulty and many of their wearers have suffered from tinnitus and other hearing problems.
Keep in mind that while considering all of these tips, it’s still important to consult a medical professional if you’ve been experiencing hearing problems.