Hearing

3 Surprising Ways to Prevent Hearing Loss

Think hearing loss is an inevitable part of aging? New research proves it doesn’t have to be! In fact, a few simple tricks are all it takes to never miss a word. Here’s how to prevent hearing loss as you age.

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Slice up banana bread.

Banana bread is more than delicious: New Korean research suggests its abundant stores of potassium cut the risk of hearing loss by as much as 60 percent! “Potassium helps the inner ear convert sounds into signals for the brain,” explains Brian Earl, Ph.D., associate professor and director of EARLAB at the University of Cincinnati. “It also supports blood vessels that supply micronutrients to the inner ear.”

Pamper ears with warmth.

Earwax buildup can harden and interfere with the acoustics in the ear canal, causing hearing loss for up to 66 percent of folks. “It can go from a protective barrier to an ear ‘plug’ if left too long,” Earl says. The fix, according to Oxford M.D.s: Apply a few drops of warmed olive or mineral oil into each ear once a week. This keeps wax soft, letting your body remove it naturally and safely. Just lie on one side and squeeze a few drops into the exposed ear. After a few minutes, place a cotton ball over the ear to catch any drips, then turn and repeat in the other ear.

Lean from the right.

When you’re chatting and things sound garbled, lean in and listen with your right ear. American Acoustical Society researchers say this boosted folks’ ability to hear by up to 40 percent. Why? Dr. Earl says sounds entering the right ear are processed by the left side of the brain, which controls language. Tip: Cup your ear too. Washington University scientists say it funnels in sound waves, boosting hearing by 20 percent.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine.

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