6 Ways to look after your ears

Reader's Digest Editors

Be kind to your ears with these six tips for better hearing

1. Tackle earwax

You produce more earwax as you get older – and too much can muffle sounds (a common cause of hearing loss). Ears are self-cleaning as long as the wax doesn’t harden. So put a drop or two of olive oil in your ear overnight to soften the wax (protect your pillow with a towel).

 

2. Treat snoring

If you or your partner snores, take action to resolve the problem). Meanwhile, wear earplugs to bed. At close range, snoring can reach levels of 90dB – louder than a road drill. In one small study at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, all four bed partners of chronic snorers had noise-induced hearing loss in one ear – the one nearest the snorer.

 

3. Cut down on saturated fat

It raises cholesterol levels, which can worsen atherosclerosis and accelerate hearing loss due to reduced blood flow to the inner ear. When doctors at the Hospital El Bierzo in León, Spain, tested 180 people aged over 65 with hearing impairment, they found that those with high cholesterol had significantly worse hearing loss.

 

4. Get enough exercise

Scientists at Miami University in Ohio, USA, have shown that two months of aerobic exercise training in relatively unfit volunteers increased hearing sensitivity as well as cardiovascular fitness. Don’t exercise while listening to loud music – apart from the noise level itself, Swedish scientists have shown that combining loud music with exercise may increase hearing damage.

 

5. Eat a healthy, balanced diet

A study of 2,111 people aged 49 to 99 at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee showed that those whose diets included more foods providing vitamin C, vitamin E, riboflavin (a B vitamin), magnesium and lycopene (a plant chemical found in high concentration in tomatoes) had better hearing.

 

6. Eat oily fish

A study at the University of Sydney of 2,956 participants aged 50+ showed that the higher the dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids, found in oily fish and some plant foods, the lower the risk of developing age-related hearing loss; higher omega-3 consumption reduced the risk of established hearing loss becoming worse too.