You’ve no doubt heard plenty of common-sense advice about keeping your hearing healthy: wear ear plugs to loud events, take a break from noisy work environments, don’t use cotton swabs to clean your ears, etc.
However, while hearing changes are a natural part of aging, your ability to hear is more complex—and connected to more factors—than just aging and noise exposure. Research shows that diet, childhood illnesses, certain medications, and even gender can all play a role in your hearing health.
Below, we’ve compiled 5 little-known hearing health facts—backed by research. Read on to learn about how these other factors are linked to your hearing, and what you can do to continue to promote good hearing health.
1. Your ears are a window to your heart
You know a healthy heart is essential to living a healthy life. But did you know your hearing health and your heart health are closely connected?
Why? Some studies have shown that the reduced blood flow caused by cardiovascular issues impacts your ears’ ability to intake and comprehend sound efficiently, and these issues have been linked to low-frequency hearing loss in certain populations.
2. Your diet can impact your hearing
It’s wisdom as old as the hills: a healthy diet leads to a longer, healthier life. What’s less talked about is how your diet can impact your ability to hear, according to research.
Some studies have suggested that certain vitamins, including A, B (specifically B2, B9, and B12), C, and E may play a large role in hearing health. Additional research has linked greater intake of antioxidants to better hearing health.
Additionally, you’ve probably noticed a number of celebrities—from Dr. Oz to Julia Roberts—drawing more attention to what is known as the “Glycemic Index.” Studies show that a diet heavy in foods that have a high glycemic index (i.e. foods with lots of sugar and starch) has been linked to hearing loss. This may very well be due to the fact that overdoing the sugary and starchy foods can increase your risk of diabetes, which has also been linked to hearing issues.
While there’s no definitive research on diets specific to promoting hearing health, eating foods recommended by your primary care physician can help you avoid health issues linked to hearing loss.
3. Moderate drinking is actually good for your hearing health
Yes, you read that correctly. While heavy drinking can increase your chances of experiencing high-frequency hearing loss, moderate alcohol intake has been associated with better hearing in several studies. In one study, both moderate and regular drinkers had around a 40% reduced risk of hearing loss compared to those who have never consumed alcohol. We’ll toast to that!
4. Certain medications and childhood illness increase your risk of hearing loss
Certain medications and illnesses can impact your ability to hear well. For instance, childhood infections like bronchitis, rubella, scarlet fever and tonsillitis can increase a person’s risk of hearing loss later in life. HIV has also been linked to hearing health issues.
5. Some research has linked ethnicity to hearing ability
While further research is needed, one study revealed hearing loss is less prevalent among African Americans than it is among Latino and Caucasian-Americans. Among Hispanic and Latino ethnic subgroups, research has shown that income, diabetes and prediabetes, and sex all played a role in hearing loss.
Healthy hearing means healthy living, and regular hearing tests can ensure your baseline hearing stays strong. Schedule your free evaluation with Connect Hearing today, and enjoy top-rated service from our knowledgeable staff of professionals.