By Maggie Niu
In honor of National Public Health Week kicking off April 4, Hearing Health Foundation has seven challenges for you to complete over the course of next week, all related to hearing loss and hearing prevention. Help us celebrate by completing our list of challenges below and sharing your experiences in with us in the comments.
On your mark… get set…GO!
Day 1: Make an appointment to get your hearing tested!
It is important to have your ears tested at least once a year, especially if you are experiencing any buzzing or ringing in your ears or unable to hear clearly. Don’t hesitate to make an appointment: Early intervention is key for preventing further damage.
Here is a directory for audiologists from the Academy of Doctors of Audiology. It is super-easy and quick to find an audiologist close to you. Simply type in your zip code and the radius you are willing to travel and bing, you have your list of audiologists.
Day 2: Reduce the volume on personal music devices to under 70% of the maximum.
We all know that unwanted noise is a nuisance so we try everything in our power to drown it out—either by turning up the volume of the music we're listening to, or talking louder. In the long run, does it benefit our hearing health? The answer is no.
Noise-induced hearing loss can occur gradually over time by listening to loud music or being exposed to loud environmental noises. We can’t always control ambient noise, but we can control personal earphone volume. Next time you are using your earphones on a high volume, remember that you are damaging your ears!
Day 3: Plan a fundraiser to help us find a cure for hearing loss and tinnitus.
Need some ideas? See examples of past events and ideas for creating your own event. Individuals, companies, organizations, sororities, and fraternities of all sizes have joined in our efforts, and we hope you will too!
Day 4: Keep a journal of the foods you eat and note the loudness of the environment you’re in. You may be surprised at what you find.
Noise can affect many things. It can cause stress and affect our mood, but would you believe that noise can affect your palate? A Cornell University study found, "…that in an environment of loud noise, our sense of taste is compromised. Interestingly, this was specific to sweet and umami tastes, with sweet taste inhibited and umami taste significantly enhanced," said Robin Dando, an assistant professor of food science. "The multisensory properties of the environment where we consume our food can alter our perception of the foods we eat."
Day 5: Eat this! Incorporate certain nutrients into your diet for optimal hearing health.
Now we know that noise can affect the taste of food we eat, but are there foods that can help our ears? Check out these five nutrients that can prevent or delay hearing loss.
Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D: Usually found in fish, both can have positive effects on hearing loss. Studies have shown that adults who ate fish twice a week had a 42% lower chance of facing age-related hearing loss than non-fish eaters.
Recipe idea: Grilled Salmon and Zucchini with Red Pepper Sauce
Antioxidants and folic acid: You can find this in spinach, beans, broccoli, asparagus, eggs, nuts and liver. They can reduce the number of free radicals in your body, which can damage the nerve tissue in your ears.
Recipe idea: Skinny Taco Stuffed Peppers.
Magnesium and potassium: Bananas, potatoes, artichokes, and broccoli are rich in magnesium and potassium. Magnesium can protect you from noise-induced hearing loss. Potassium is responsible for regulating the amount of fluid in your body.
Recipe idea: Creamy Garlic Pasta with Shrimp and Vegetables.
Zinc: Zinc can be found in dark chocolate and oysters. It is important to include zinc because it boosts the body’s immune system and is responsible for warding off germs that cause the common cold and ear infections.
Recipe idea: Baked Oysters with Wild Mushroom Ragout.
Vitamins C and E and glutathione: Vitamin C and E can increase your overall health by reducing the chance of getting an ear infection. Vitamins C and E can be found in vegetables and in fruit. Glutathione is made naturally by the liver and is found in fruits, vegetables, and meat.
Recipe idea: Pomodoro Pasta with White Beans and Olives.
Day 6: Use everyday technology to enhance your hearing health.
Take control of your hearing health with the technology you use daily: download a sound level meter on your smartphone or tablet to measure the decibel levels. In our Winter 2015 Hearing Health magazine, we listed apps that were vetted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and they include: NoiSee by Noise Lab ($1), Noise Hunter by Inter•net2day ($6), and SoundMeter by Faber Acoustical ($20). These apps were cited as providing the most accurate A-weighted sound level measurements.
Other apps include: The Jacoti ListenApp, where you can test your hearing via earphones, and the LesserSound App, which allows the user to take sound readings and record the location from where the noise was recorded.
Day 7: Share your story!
Share your story about living with hearing loss, tinnitus, or other hearing conditions and how it has affected you via our online scrapbook, blog, or magazine. Inspire others who are touched by similar conditions so that we can help raise awareness about the prevalence of hearing loss and other hearing disorders as well as our research to find better treatments, therapies, and ultimately a cure.
You can share your story by emailing us at email@example.com. It can be on ANYTHING related to hearing loss, tinnitus, or other hearing related conditions, such as funny stories, personal experiences, tips for our readers, or hearing health. If you would like to contribute but find that you're having writer's block, email us anyway! We're HEAR to get you through it! (Pun intended.)
These are just some tips and advice that can help your hearing and the broader hearing health community. For any additional questions please contact your audiologist, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website.