Surprising ways to prevent hearing loss

Patsy Westcott / 25 January 2016

From the odd glass of wine to yoga, here are nine easy things you can do to help prevent hearing loss as you age.



Go for greens

Low levels of folate, a B vitamin found in dark leafy greens such as spring cabbage and spinach, are linked with age-related hearing loss (presbycusis). In a 2007 Dutch study, a supplement of folic acid (the synthetic form of folate) slowed hearing decline in older people. Other good natural sources include broccoli, asparagus, avocado and lentils.

Related: Find out more about folate

Wear ear plugs

If you’re going to be exposed to loud noise, for example at a rock concert, protect your ears. Loud noise damages the tiny hair cells that enable us to hear and once lost they can’t be restored. Visit www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk for a range of earplugs.

Strike a yoga pose

Reduced blood flow to the cochlea, the hearing organ in your inner ear, is implicated in age-related hearing loss. Yoga poses such as the Downward-Facing Dog, the Fish and the Camel all help increase circulation. Visit the British Wheel of Yoga website (www.bwy.org.uk/find-a-teacher-class) for a list of classes/teachers near you.

Related: Discover the mind and body benefits of yoga

Know your waist size

Abdominal adiposity – aka fat around the middle - increases age-related hearing-loss risk, according to a recent US study. Your waist should be less than 102 cm/40in (men) and less than 88 cm/34in (women).

Related: 8 ways to reduce belly fat

Watch your cholesterol

High levels of total and ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol are linked with an increased risk of presbycusis. Meanwhile high levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol are protective according to a study published in the August 2015 issue of Twin Research and Human Genetics.

Related: Learn more about cholesterol

A glass of wine

And now for some good news: moderate alcohol consumption (up to six standard glasses of wine, beer or spirits a week) may help protect against presbycusis, according to a large European study.

Relax

Chronic long-term stress is linked to a greater risk of hearing problems, including tinnitus, that often accompanies hearing loss. Take regular time out and do things that help you relax. For example, a brisk walk, a massage, a swim, curling up with a book, or your favourite box set.

Related: Learn more about how stress affects your health

Feast on fish

A high intake of fish was linked with better hearing, especially in men, according to Swedish research published recently in the International Journal of Audiology. Conversely a diet high in refined sugars (found in sweets, pastries, cakes, biscuits and sugary drinks) was linked to poor high-frequency hearing, especially in women. The message is clear: junk the junk.

Related: 10 healthy reasons to eat more fish

Stub it out

Smoking is linked to a higher risk of hearing loss, according to the ongoing US Beaver Dam Eye Study, which is investigating risk factors for cardiovascular disease and the 15-year incidence of hearing impairment. The good news is: former smokers are at no increased risk. If you do just one thing…quit.

Related: Your stop smoking guide

Read more about treatments for hearing loss

Read our article on new treatments, including hearing aids, for age-related hearing loss in the February issue of Saga Magazine. Subscribe to the print edition or download the digital edition today.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.