It might be a cliché, but it’s common that loved ones and those you spend the most time with will recognize your hearing loss before you do.
It sneaks up on you gradually. The brain compensates for this loss in multiple ways and you will adapt by increasing the volume on the radio or TV. Or by standing closer to people and watching their mouths during conversations.
It’s not like you don’t notice the subtle changes, but you likely feel you can “handle” it.
Unfortunately, doing nothing can have severe consequences. If left untreated, it could affect your ability to understand speech once you hear sounds again with a hearing aid. Your brain might not interpret specific frequencies as before and perceive them as excessively loud and irritating. The sound of rustling leaves or a friendly conversation next door might become an unpleasant experience.
Sound stimulates your brain more than your eyesight. Hearing requires two functioning ears and a trained auditory response area of the brain. The auditory cortex receives acoustic pulses that are interpreted by the brain. By avoiding taking action, these nerve endings break down with lack of use, losing the ability to detect sound altogether. Timely treatment and hearing aids can slow this decline and loss.
Have you noticed…?
- Do traffic noises behind a closed window bother you? Or does the hum of the fridge get under your skin?
- Do you find yourself getting stressed or anxious about making mistakes when gathering with friends? Do you lose track of conversations or miss the punch line to jokes? Do people get irritated when you ask them to repeat what they said?
- Do others ask you to lower the TV more often than not? And do you feel that you can’t hear properly or understand without it cranked to high?
|Hearing loss can make gathering with friends or any social contact very stressful. Many tend to get frustrated and choose to withdraw from social events. This self-imposed isolation can lead to physical and emotional turmoil, including chronic fatigue, and affect your overall quality of life.|
Behind the Cause
Six reasons can lead to hearing loss:
- Damage to middle or inner ear structure.
- Damage to the central nervous system that serves the ear
- Inadequate hormone levels
- Infection or inflammation
- Oxidative stress of free radical damage
- Blood supply and nutrient delivery
Damage could also be caused by loud noise, poisoning, or physical injury that could affect the ear structures.
Another common hearing problem and could accompany hearing loss is Tinnitus, noise sensitivity, or dizziness. Tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in your ears. This noise is a symptom with an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury, or a circulatory system disorder.2
Sudden Hearing Loss is an emergency event. That’s when everything is fine one moment, and then suddenly, it’s like you’re wrapped in cotton wool, and everything is muffled. The specific cause for this is unknown but could be any one of the 6 reasons above. In this case, you should seek professional help immediately. An ENT (Ear, Nose, & Throat) specialist could help you make a full recovery if treated early.
Age-related hearing loss usually starts between ages 45-65 and can be worsened by high-level noise. It mainly affects the higher frequencies, making talking to women and children more difficult to hear. This is caused by damage to the fine hair sensory receptor cells in the cochlea. This damage diminishes the signals to the auditory nerve. Signs that this type of damage has occurred can be noticed when you’re no longer able to hear leaves rustling in the wind or a ticking clock.
Genetics could also be a culprit. About 500 of our 30,000 genes can influence hearing. Prof. Claes Möller of the University of Örebro Sweden found a mutated gene characterized by the production of either too much or too little protein. This causes two-thirds of all congenital forms of hearing loss.3
8 Simple Tips to Improve Your Communication
These tips can help remove the fear and any awkward situations when you communicate with others.
- Be upfront about hearing loss.
- Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for what you need.
- Keep background noise low.
- If you’re unsure that you understand, summarize what you think was said so the speaker can confirm or explain again.
- Face the person you’re speaking with to see their mouth.
- Try to keep a sense of humor and patience.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself and give yourself a break in a quiet area to regroup.
- If you’re too tired or distracted for a conversation, ask to postpone.
Traditional Oriental Medicine (TOM) has used Ginkgo biloba, Panax ginseng, and Astragalus propinquus for centuries to improve hearing. Studies show they enhance hearing thresholds in patients with sensorineural hearing loss and alleviated the symptoms of tinnitus.4
Ginkgo Biloba – Oxidative stress may be a cause for Tinnitus.5 Ginkgo is chock-full of antioxidants, and research suggests these may help reduce damaging oxidation and improve Tinnitus.6 One clinical trial involving 761 patients with sudden hearing loss, resulted in the recovery of hearing exhibiting signs of improvement after one week.7 In certain countries, this herb is used to treat inner ear disorders and is thought to increase blood circulation, which may help stabilize hearing loss.
Hawthorn Berry – Hawthorn berry protects against hearing loss, as it improves blood flow and circulation. Hawthorn is loaded with antioxidants and has strong immunity benefits.8 One pathway that can affect your hearing quality is blood flow, and Hawthorn helps improve blood vessel health.9
Spearmint – Spearmint contains folic acid. Studies have shown that low levels of folic acid are linked with age-related hearing loss. This pleasant-smelling species of mint contains other antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients as well, so go enjoy some tea!
Garlic – Adding garlic to your diet may help combat hearing loss because it helps increase blood flow. Increased blood flow equals a healthy cochlea, which transmits sound impulses to the brain. One pathway for hearing loss is infection. Garlic has been widely used traditionally against ear infections since it’s very beneficial to healthy immunity. The antibacterial properties of garlic help combat infections from taking hold.10 Studies show it also has protective benefits against long-term noise.11
Turmeric – Turmeric is excellent at relieving pain and inflammation and is also high in potassium. Potassium levels drop naturally as we age, and this can cause problems since potassium plays a crucial role in cell interaction in the inner ear.12
Vitamin B6 (Pyroxidine) – Unbalanced hormones can be a factor causing hearing loss; vitamin B6 helps support healthy hormone levels.13 It also promotes enzyme activity to support healthy hearing.14
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) – Niacin helps improve blood flow to the inner ear, which can reduce Tinnitus (ringing in ears).15 Studies show it can help with sudden hearing loss with long-term use of 6 months and more.16
Vitamin B9 (Folate) – Low Folate levels are linked with poor hearing.17 In one 3-year randomized controlled trial with 728 patients, Folate slowed the age-related hearing decline of speech frequencies. 18
Green Tea Extract – The inner ear has rows of specialized hairs that help with hearing and balance. Green Tea’s abundant polyphenols help protect these hairs from damage.19 They also help regenerate these hair cells to improve hearing loss.20 Green Tea also boosts zinc absorption that aids hearing.21
Olive Leaf Extract – Loaded with polyphenols that help support healthy immunity and fight damaging free radicals. 22 It also helps protect the brain and nervous system functions from damage.23 And it’s considered an effective enhancement for heart health and the circulatory system.24 All necessary to help maintain healthy hearing.
NAC (N-Acetyl-Cysteine) – NAC comes from the amino acid L-Cysteine, a building block of proteins. Animal studies show NAC can help protect you from age-related hearing loss and protect the inner ear hair cells from degrading. NAC also promotes glutathione production, which is a powerful antioxidant. Glutathione helps protect against free radical damage, toxicity, and noise-induced hearing loss.25
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