The field of audiology is making advancements in hearing aid technology every day. Many of the 48 million Americans who suffer from hearing loss would like to naturally improve their hearing before seeking professional intervention. But, is it possible?
Hearing loss happens naturally with age, but a host of other factors are also to blame. You might have been genetically predisposed to hearing loss. Extreme noise, viral infections, and even medical treatments including antibiotics and chemotherapy can also be contributing factors to hearing loss.
Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants
Hearing tests are available to determine the best treatment. Although hearing aids and cochlear implants do not remedy the underlying physical problems causing the loss of hearing, they do amplify sound. Advances in the design of these treatments make them almost invisible.
While hearing loss typically can’t be reversed naturally, alternatives to hearing aids are on the way thanks to clinical trials for new drugs and genetic therapies. Among these alternatives are drugs that can be administered to those exposed to excessive noise. Also available are genetic therapies that regenerate damaged delicate microscopic hair cells in the inner ear that transmit electrical impulses that aid in hearing.
A U.S. Department of Defense-funded study found that a naturally occurring amino acid found in cheese and yogurt prevented the noise-induced hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss is the most common reason military troops cannot be redeployed, but it also affects farmers, law enforcement officials, construction and mining workers as well as musicians. If administered 48 hours before or after noise exposure, the amino acids seemed to neutralize destructive molecules that contribute to hearing loss.
Anne G.M. Schilder is the director of translational hearing research at the National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre at University College London Hospital. According to Schilder, "For the first time, we're looking at normal therapeutics that can either restore, regenerate or protect people's hearing.” Schilder also reports that breakthroughs are happening in the understanding of the underlying mechanisms that lead to hearing loss. She predicts seeing a range of new drugs within the next several years to come to aid.
Thanks to legislation enacted in 2000, hospitals today use hearing tests to screen newborns for hearing loss before discharge. When a child is identified and treated for hearing loss, audiologists can begin providing access to sound and developing a foundation for listening. Providing children with access to natural sounds also teaches them how to make the best possible use of the limited hearing they have.
Although hearing loss can’t be reversed naturally just yet, you may be able to naturally prevent further loss if you’re willing to make a few lifestyle changes. Paying special attention to your fitness—including cardiovascular exercise, yoga, and stretching—can help keep the effects of hearing loss at bay. Additionally, vitamins can provide some much-needed reprieve, as well.
We all know that exercise provides many health benefits. Add prevention of hearing loss to the list. A recent study reported that routine cardiovascular exercise provides blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients necessary to maintain healthy auditory systems within the inner-ear. If you're not a fan of cardio, you could pay more attention to therapeutic exercises such as yoga (hot or standard) and good, classic stretching. These popular alternatives can activate your muscles and keep blood flowing throughout the body. The focus on proper breathing during the practice of yoga facilitates proper blood flow and oxygenation as well.
While some believe certain vitamins and essential oils can naturally restore hearing loss, there is very little evidence to prove it. A study on the subject proved that a higher intake of vitamin C, E, B12, or beta carotene does not reduce the risk of hearing loss. However, men over 60 may benefit from higher folate intake to reduce the risk of developing hearing loss. If you can't find a way to get a hold of capsuled vitamins, you can make an effort to incorporate nutrient-rich foods such as spinach, asparagus, beans, broccoli, eggs, and nuts into your diet.