With centuries worth of knowledge and research surrounding the benefits of working out and your body and psyche, it’s no wonder that diet and exercise are prescribed to treat almost anything. Patients suffering from serious ailments such as heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, and even cancer are recommended to exercise to protect their health, but your dedication to the gym may actually cause more harm than good when it comes to your hearing. Before signing up for that new membership, learn how strenuous exercise alongside loud music could be the cause of your tinnitus and hearing loss.
Heavy Lifting and Damaged Hearing
Strenuous exercise can lead to serious exertion on your part, causing you to strain your body or hold your breath when lifting heavy weights. This extreme straining can cause a dangerous build-up of pressure within your brain known as “intracranial pressure”, which can sequentially find its way into the ears. Holding your breath while straining can compound the effect, leading to even more of this pressure in the brain and inner ear. Why is this dangerous? Increased pressure in the inner ear can cause a Perilymphatic Fistula (PLF), a small defect or tear in one or both thin membranes that keep fluid in the inner ear from reaching the middle ear cavity. If excessive pressure results in a PLF, inner ear fluid may leak into the middle ear, causing issues with balance, tinnitus, sensitive hearing, and even sudden hearing loss. These tears can heal on their own but sometimes may require surgery to the ear canal.
Turn Down The Volume of Your Workout Playlist
When committing to serious exercise, motivation is critical to reaching your workout goals. For athletes and fitness enthusiasts alike, the right soundtrack is vital to keeping you motivated and in the zone. But when listening to your favorite workout playlist, how loud is too loud?
Competing with noise from machines and other members, research has shown that many gyms play their music at a dangerous level to keep you stimulated, sometimes reaching volumes of 99 decibels. For perspective, the human ear can only withstand 1 hours worth of exposure to 94 decibels before damage occurs. If your ears are ringing after attending your next spin class, it might be beneficial to ask your gym to lower the tunes.
Most people exercise to their own catered playlist though, often played through headphones at an ear-splitting level. With iPhones capable of reaching volumes of 110 decibels (the equivalent of a live rock concert), you could be subjecting your hearing to 16 times the level deemed safe every time you hit the gym.
What You Can Do
- Lowering the volume during your next workout can save you from the bothersome buzzing of tinnitus or permanent hearing damage. Use the built-in volume limit feature on your iPhone or politely ask the gym to lower the music.
- If you know you will be subjected to loud noises such as music or members dropping weights, consider wearing ear protection on your next visit.
- Reduce the weight. Lifting far more than your body can handle may look cool, but a PLF is not.
- If you experience hearing loss or symptoms of tinnitus after a workout, seek out the advice and help of a health care provider or audiologist.
“The fork is your most powerful tool to change your health and the planet; food is the most powerful medicine to heal chronic illness.”
-Mark Hyman, M.D.
Food and nutrition are at the forefront of the health conversation these days and for a good reason. The link between what we eat and risk of so many conditions, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes has been shown in research again and again. People around the world are looking to food for health benefits, but did you know that your diet could also impact your hearing health?
Supporting your hearing health, one forkful at a time may be easier than you think!
Fill your plate with these foods
While certain foods, vitamins and minerals have been connected to better hearing health, an overall healthy diet provides a crucial foundation. Studies like this indicate that it may rank right up there with noise exposure in importance and studies like this underline how a healthy diet can reduce the risk of hearing loss.
In general, fill your plate with:
- Whole grains
- Fruits and vegetables
- Lean proteins
- Healthy fats in recommended amounts
These types of foods can support overall health by supporting the cardiovascular system and reducing inflammation throughout the body, but there’s more you can do when it comes to eating for healthy hearing.
Focus on these foods for hearing health
While it’s smart to follow a healthy total diet, some of the newest research points to particular nutrients that are especially powerful in supporting hearing health (and reducing the risk of hearing loss). While more studies are needed, it’s hard to find a downside in adding vitamins, minerals and foods like these to your diet to boost hearing health:
- Omega 3 fatty acids – While it’s unclear the exact link, in the Blue Mountains Hearing study, researchers identified a connection between how much fatty fish individuals ate and their risk of hearing impairment. The more salmon, mackerel, herring, black walnuts, flaxseed oil and similar omega 3-rich foods people ate, the lower their risk of hearing loss.
- Folate – Found in dark leafy greens (think spinach and arugula), artichokes, fortified breakfast cereal, beans and other legumes, studies have found that skimping on folate can negatively impact blood flow to the inner ear increasing the risk of hearing loss.
- Magnesium + Vitamins A, C, E – Combine this mineral and these vitamins, and you’ve got a powerhouse for hearing health according to a recent study. Working together, these vitamins and mineral may help protect against loud noises by reducing the free radicals that begin circulating after noise exposure. Those are the same free radicals that can damage the inner ear. Getting more is as easy as adding avocados, nuts and seeds, whole grains, tofu, red sweet peppers, salmon, eggs, sweet potato, guavas, and even dark chocolate to your meals, to name a few.
- Potassium – This mineral works in harmony with sodium to help regulate fluid within the body. That includes the fluid of the inner ear. Without this important fluid, electrical impulses cannot be transmitted, and hearing is impaired. To make sure you’re getting enough potassium, add foods such as potatoes, chard and white beans to your diet.
Take steps to support your hearing health today by adding foods like these to your diet.
If you’d like to learn more ways to help protect your hearing and prevent hearing loss, contact our office. We can work with you to schedule a hearing evaluation, treat any hearing loss, and give you ideas to support your hearing.