By Dr. Nimet Adam
Many patients ask how can I maintain the hearing that I have and keep it from progressively getting worst? Here are my top 10 tips for optimizing hearing and brain health.
- Wear your hearing aids regularly and for a minimum of 12 hours a day. Your brain needs sound and if you want the ears to not forget how to transmit sound and you want this process to remain efficient, then keep those hearing aids in for as long as possible.
- Maintain your hearing devices. It’s not enough to just wear them, you have to make sure they are working optimally. Change your domes and filters at least once a month and come in for quarterly clean and checks so your Audiologist can ensure that your devices are performing according to manufacturer specs.
- Keep your ears clean. Sound can’t travel through the ear canal if there is wax blocking its path. Your Audiologist will check your ears at every visit and will remove the wax if necessary. If your ears feel full or you are changing domes and filters more frequently, this could be an indication that there is a wax build-up. Please don’t try to clean your ears yourself.
- Get your hearing testing once a year. Hearing loss, although progressive, has no set pattern. We may see no changes 1 year and then a larger change the following year. Each ear may progress differently. It’s important to reprogram the devices if there has been a change so that the hearing aids match your current hearing level. Manufacturers also have software updates that need to be updated in your hearing aids.
- Exercise! The ear requires good blood flow. Not only is exercise good for your ears it’s good for your brain!
- Eat Healthy Foods. Chronic health problems such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis can increase your risk for hearing loss and cognitive decline. Eating a diet that reduces inflammation and choosing “real” food instead of processed food with a million ingredients will promote better health. Try adding a vegetable to every meal.
- Sleep 7-10 hours a day. Poor sleep affects hearing and your brain. It is difficult to focus and keep up with conversation and listening cues if you are tired.
- Challenge your brain. Learn a new language, instrument or new skill to keep the connections in your brain healthy. Strengthening cognitive skills will help you to hear better in noise and group situations.
- Maintain social interactions. A strong network of family and friends is essential to a healthy brain and if you can hear people you are going to remain socially active. Research has shown that people that suffer from depression have a 50% higher risk of cognitive decline! Social interactions force you to remember names, places, stories, etc. and make you use communication strategies that are important to maintain.
- Keep your chronic health issues under control. If your heart disease, diabetes or other chronic conditions deteriorate, this won’t only affect your hearing and brain health but could affect your mobilty, overall health and your well-being and happiness. See your Physician regularly and report any changes immediately.