“My wife says I never listen to her…at least I think that’s what she said.”
Many of us joke about “selective deafness” in our significant others well before we reach the time of life when hearing loss develops in the naturally occurring cycle of aging. However, for many, hearing loss can occur in life long before it should.
Hearing loss is caused by one of two different types of conditions being present, either; conductive hearing loss – as a result of physical problems with the movement of the sound wave through the ear, or sensorineural hearing loss – from damage to the hair cells or nerves that sense sound waves.
There are many different situations that can bring about these two conditions; infections, drugs, physical damage, certain diseases, and one of today’s most talked about causes, prolonged exposure to noise.
Hearing loss can be sudden or gradual, mild or severe. Usually, the speed with which hearing loss occurs gives us clues as to the cause. Depending on the symptoms, and the eventual diagnosis, you could be given something as simple as antibiotics to fight infection, softening drops to remove excess earwax, or be referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist if it is suspected that there is physical damage to the bones of your inner ear. Statistics show that most causes of hearing loss do not require a stay in the hospital or referral to a specialist.
In this article, we’ll address how hearing loss can occur, hearing loss prevention, and supplements for hearing support.
How Normal Hearing Occurs
To understand hearing loss it is important to understand how normal hearing takes place. There are two different pathways by which sound waves produce the sensation of hearing: air conduction and bone conduction.
Air Conduction – Sound waves move through the air, come into contact with your eardrum and cause it to move. When your eardrum moves, the movement is transmitted to the bones in the middle ear. Movement of one of these bones, the stapes, causes pressure waves in the fluid-filled inner ear. Pressure waves in the fluid cause small hairs in the inner ear structure to move, stimulating the auditory nerve. Different frequencies stimulate different hairs which translate to the sensation of sounds of different pitch.
Bone Conduction – Ever been to a rock concert? Well then, this type of hearing will make sense to you. Hearing by bone conduction occurs when a sound wave or other source of vibration causes the bones of the skull to vibrate. (What’d I tell you?) These vibrations are transmitted to the fluid surrounding the inner ear and hearing occurs.
Ways In Which Hearing Loss Can Occur
There are two basic types of hearing loss: conductive (physical involvement) and sensorineural (nerve involvement).
Conductive hearing losses result from physical problems with the movement of the sound wave through the ear. Examples of this would include an obstructed external ear canal from wax build-up, a blood clot, infection that causes the ear canal to swell, or a foreign body in the ear canal. A perforated eardrum, dislocation of a middle ear bone, or a middle ear infection, are all also indicative of a conductive hearing loss situation.
Sensorineural causes include prolonged exposure to loud noises, pressure trauma (usually in divers), head trauma that disturbs the auditory nerves, certain drugs that can disturb auditory nerve function, vascular diseases which cause swelling of blood vessels around the nerves, serious/chronic kidney problems, tumors which press on the auditory nerves and infections. 1
It is important to note that statistics show most causes of hearing loss do not require a stay in the hospital or even a referral to a specialist. They can be taken care of right in your health care professionals office or with home treatments.
Hearing Loss Prevention
As most parents of teenagers can attest, hearing loss can be caused by prolonged exposure to loud noise. Unfortunately, and we need to drive this home to our teenagers, noise-induced hearing loss is usually permanent and progresses with exposure. Anyone working in construction or a trade that exposes them to loud noises should take proper precautions and wear industry-standard approved hearing protection devices.
We teach our little ones never to put anything in their ear but their elbow and adults would do well to remember this too. Never put foreign objects such as cotton swabs, cotton balls or liquids into your ear. If your health care provider prescribes a liquid for your ear, he/she should show you how to use it properly.
Take ear infections seriously and see your health care provider as soon as possible, especially if the pain is accompanied by a fever. In winter weather, protect your ears from the cold and wind if you need to be outside for a prolonged period of time.
Vitamins and Minerals for Hearing Support
Manganese is a trace mineral that is present in very small amounts in the body. About 20 milligrams of manganese is found mostly in bones, the liver, kidneys, and pancreas. Manganese aids in the formation of connective tissue, bones, blood-clotting factors, and sex hormones, and plays a role in fat and carbohydrate metabolism, calcium absorption, and blood sugar regulation. Manganese is also necessary for normal brain and nerve function. Low levels of manganese have been associated with tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hearing loss.
Manganese deficiencies are considered rare since it is relatively easy to obtain adequate amounts of manganese through the diet. Interestingly, though, some experts estimate that as many as 37% of Americans do not get the recommended dietary intake (RDI) of manganese in their diet. This may be due to the fact that whole grains are a major source of dietary manganese, and many Americans consume refined grains (such as white breads and pastas) more often than whole grains. Refined grains only provide half the amount of manganese as whole grains. Other rich dietary sources include nuts and seeds, wheat germ, legumes and pineapples.
A 2007 study reports that a combination of high doses of vitamins A, C, and E and magnesium taken one hour before noise exposure and continued as a once-daily treatment for five days, is every effective at preventing permanent noise-induced hearing loss. 3
You can get your RDI of manganese, and all your essential vitamins and minerals, from your diet and one great multivitamin per day.
Quest Super Once A Day Time Release Multiple Vitamins and Chelated Minerals is a premier multivitamin and mineral formula that provides megadose nutrition in a single tablet. The time release format gives a continuous supply of nutrients, assuring maximum utilization of each ingredient. This supplement contains a complete spectrum of essential vitamins and easily absorbed amino acid-chelated minerals in a formula that also maximizes bioavailability and physiological bioactivity of the nutrients.
2. University of Maryland Medical Center
3. Supplements Might Prevent Hearing Loss
Can A Dietary Supplement Stave Off Hearing Loss?Science Daily, February 13, 2009Researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Florida, …have demonstrated that temporary noise-induced hearing loss – the hearing loss you might feel immediately after attending a loud concert but that goes away in a day or two – can be prevented in guinea pigs by a combination of the antioxidants beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E and the mineral magnesium, when administered before exposure to a loud sound. read more…
Carol Roy is a Natural Health Practitioner who received her diploma from the Alternative Medicine College of Canada in Montreal, Quebec. With 12 years experience in her area of expertise, natural health and wellness, Carol has also trained to become a fully qualified Reiki Master, Quantum Touch Practitioner, and Reflexologist.
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