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Exercise those ears: Simple ways to keep your hearing in shape

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Posted: Thursday, March 27, 2014 10:00 pm | Updated: 1:45 am, Sat Jun 14, 2014.

(BPT) - There are hundreds of benefits from daily exercise. Science has shown that daily aerobic exercise improves brain function, helps maintain a healthy cardiovascular system, helps regulate insulin levels and slows aging. Good health enables a person to experience and enjoy life to its fullest, and a critical aspect of wellness is hearing.

“Good hearing enables us to effortlessly communicate with others throughout our lives,” says Dr. Kathy Landau Goodman, audiologist and chairperson of the Audiology Awareness Campaign, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to raise public awareness of hearing care. “Just as a healthy body is fostered through proper nutrition, regular exercise, adequate rest and good hygienic practices, so is the ability to hear well.”

What can affect hearing health? Dr. Landau Goodman says lack of adequate aerobic exercise, obesity, poor nutrition, cardiovascular problems, smoking, noise exposure, frequent use of pain relievers and exposure to organic solvents have been associated with a higher risk for hearing loss.

There are actions people can take that can help maintain the ability to process and understand speech when communicating with others. For example, people who regularly play musical instruments maintain their ability to better process and understand the sounds they hear in daily communication.

The following list of healthy hearing practices may help prevent or reduce hearing loss in adults and children and help maintain hearing fitness:

1. Sustain aerobic exercise 20 to 30 minutes five days a week

2. Eat five vegetable/fruit servings per day to get adequate antioxidants and magnesium

3. Maintain normal weight

4. Eliminate smoking and reduce exposure to second hand smoke

5. Reduce frequent use of over-the-counter pain relievers, including ibuprofen and acetaminophen

7. Reduce intensity and length of exposure to loud music from mp3 players or smartphones and replace stock earbuds with noise cancelling or noise reduction earphones or earbuds

8. Wear hearing protection when exposed to noise at work, at home or during recreational activities and events

9. Reduce exposure to organic solvents such as toluene, styrene or xylene as the combined exposure with noise increases the risk of hearing loss

10. Do not purchase loud toys for children

11. Play a musical instrument

Just as annual health checkups are important to maintain physical health, annual hearing checkups are essential. Unfortunately, many people do not get annual hearing tests. This may be one of the reasons hearing loss is often untreated.

Untreated hearing loss is associated with decreased household income, mental decline, depression, social isolation and quality of life. In addition, people with even a mild hearing loss are nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling compared to people with normal hearing.

Seize the opportunity to see an audiologist to determine your hearing “fitness.” Go to the Audiology Awareness website www.audiologyawareness.com or call the Audiology Awareness hotline 888-833-EARS to find an audiologist in your area. If you have a hearing loss, an audiologist will help you get the appropriate treatment to help you hear better.

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