Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Prevent Age Related Hearing Loss

I love hearing the singing of wild birds and the rolling waves at the beach. I can’t imagine not being able to hear that—those sounds bring me a lot of comfort.

While working with seniors earlier this year, loss of hearing was a common thread among the clients, and they all wore hearing aids. For several of the clients, the hearing loss may have been preventable. If we can prevent hearing loss or at least try to decrease the chances of losing our hearing in our older years, shouldn't we try?

I’d like to share some tips I came across while researching this topic. I was wowed at the many reasons for hearing loss, but since this is about age-related hearing loss, I’ll focus on that. The following is very lite. I had no idea how involved hearing loss and ear health issues were, but I think between my few suggestions and the excellent links at the end of this article, many questions may be addressed. I apologize for any omissions.

The most common disorders in adults are Tinnitus and Presbycusis.[1] Tinnitus is a continuous buzzing or ringing in the ear/ears. Possible causes are damage or congestion in ear canals, poor blood flow to the ears, illness, or allergies. Presbycusis is the gradual loss of hearing because of aging.

Loud noise is damaging--we all know that. According to Brian J. Sc. D., Better Hearing Institute, Harvard Medical School. "If you have to raise your voice to shout over the noise to be heard by someone within an arm's length away, that noise could be a serious risk to your hearing. You can prevent hearing loss by removing yourself from situations where noise is excessive or by using earplugs to protect your ears." We can also reduce noise in our environment by buying quieter products - look for items stating low-noise. TVs today can emit powerful sounds loud enough to shake a room - save your ears and turn down the volume. The workplace (manufacturing facilities, military, construction sites, etc.), in the past, was a cause of hearing loss. Employers these days ensure earplugs or other protective headgear are worn.
Like every organ system in our body, our ears age and our hearing naturally declines. As a result of aging, changes take place in the ear canal - changes like shrinking of the ear canal, less ear wax production, and thickening of the eardrums. If we practice prevention avoiding consistent loud noise and take measures to protect our ears by using earplugs or headphones when necessary, we’re off to a good start, especially in our younger years. Eating a diet high in vegetables and fruits is the other key—it reduces inflammation, stagnation, and toxicity in the body.

According to one of my favorite herbalists, Rosemary Gladstar[3], there are studies showing that people with high cholesterol levels have a greater hearing loss than those with normal cholesterol levels. Other studies show that diets with a large intake of vegetables and fruits slows down the aging process so it makes sense to me that this would slow down the gradual loss of our hearing as well.

To sufferers of Tinnitus or ringing in the ear, the level of annoyance will be unique to each person. I confess I have suffered from ringing in one of my ears. It didn’t last very long. I use lots of herbs typically including the ones I mention below. I also used Taurine capsules, an amino acid, to help me with my ringing in the ear.

While researching the topic, I clicked on one of my favorite web sites -- drweil.com. Many of us these days are aware that most pharmaceutical drugs come with a list of side-effects, but hearing loss? Dr. Weil says in an article that "there is evidence that suggests that women who take Ibuprofen or Tylenol 2 days a week or more are at an increased risk of hearing loss." He also stated in this same article that an investigation from Brigham and Women's Hospital, published findings from 2010, showing that the drugs are also associated with hearing loss in men.[2]

I always reach for food or plants before anything else. These are some of my choices for the ears (and other issues):  Mullein, Thyme, Butcher’s broom, Cayenne, Chamomile, Ginger root, Turmeric, and Yarrow. These botanicals are easy to obtain from your local health food store or online at reliable sources like Mountain Rose Herbs or Gaia Herbs. I want to single out my favorite--Ginkgo biloba--it can improve hearing loss related to reduced blood flow (it's just darn good for circulation). These can be taken by Tincture/Extract (follow instructions on the bottle, Integrative Physician, Naturopath or your Herbalist). I prefer to take my herbs in tea form when possible—if you need help on making tea/infusions just send me an email-I’m happy to provide a more thorough explanation on quantity, etc. How long should one take herbals varies from person to person and herb to herb. Speaking generally, recommended package dose on container 3 times a day. I suggest taking the weekend off and my personal time frame is 3 months. I've provided links to my go-to practitioners for additional and varied ear health tips.
Hearing aids are a great invention, but I don't want to have to ever use them. Those helpful devices require constant attention. One elderly gentleman, I had the pleasure of caring for wore hearing aids and was always fiddling with them. The devices either needed new batteries, an adjustment, they weren't fitting right in his ears, or he would take them out because they would buzz. Another client took out the earbuds and put them in her charger; she often forgot to put them back in her ears. When the aids needed an adjustment or a tune up, her pair of aids were mailed to a clinic out of town. My point with the hearing aids is it seems to take a lot of energy as well as creating some frustration.

In summary, age related hearing loss can be prevented or at the very minimum kept at bay. The ability to hear well adds to one’s quality of life. Being mindful of loud noises and turning down the volume, taking care of one’s body by eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, practicing gentle exercise, applying stress reduction strategies, and socializing are a few tools for keeping the body strong and healthy thus slowing the aging process down as well as keeping the inner ear in good ‘hearing’ shape and able to enjoy the sounds we love so much.

Wishing you good health and happy living,


Awesome tips from Dr. John Gray - I suggest bookmarking it:  https://www.marsvenus.com/blog/john-gray/that-ringing-in-your-ears-is-tinnitus

[1] Prescription for Nutritional Healing:  a practical A to Z reference to drug-free remedies using vitamins, minerals, herbs and food supplements, by James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C.
[3] The Family Herbal, by Rosemary Gladstar

Copyright 2017, Mariluz Kersey Wellness