Happy man who is protecting his hearing.

 

What’s the biggest contributor to your overall quality of life? Your health. Luckily, there are ways to improve your health (and quality of life).

Here are three easy things you can do to prevent serious health issues down the road.

1. Hearing Protection

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (or NIDCD), roughly 50% of Americans over the age of 75 have hearing loss at levels that are effectively “disabling.” In other words, you’re essentially a coin-flip away from a hearing impairment that gets in the way of your daily life.

There’s a reason why we mention hearing loss statistics right off the bat here. Hearing loss has been linked to a wide variety of issues, from depression to dementia. It stands to reason, then, preventing hearing loss in the first place can help prevent some rather serious health issues. And that means protecting your hearing while you’ve got it.

That’s because the vast majority of hearing loss–even so-called “age-related” hearing loss–is caused by damage to your ears. This damage can build up slowly over the years; in fact, it’s often so slow-moving that you don’t recognize your hearing has been compromised until it’s too late.

In many cases, protecting your hearing is as simple as wearing earmuffs or earplugs in noisy environments. Earmuffs are usually officially mandated in a loud workplace. But it might be a good idea to make sure you wear earplugs when you’re mowing the lawn, too. Improving your awareness of dangerous noise levels can also safeguard your hearing. Popular smartphone apps can notify you when the surrounding noise becomes hazardous. You just have to listen to those apps.

2. Hearing Tests

In some ways, your ears are kind of like the canary in the coal mine. They’re an early warning system (that’s why we’re so focused on them). So undergoing regular hearing screenings can help you detect some serious health issues early.

For example, tinnitus could indicate elevated blood pressure, which itself can then go on to cause all kinds of health issues. Likewise, hearing loss can sometimes be caused by obstructions in the ear–everything from infections to tumors. Tests for tinnitus and hearing loss can often lead to the discovery of other underlying issues, catching them early.

The earlier most health issues are detected, the more treatment options you have. By the same token, hearing screenings can also diagnose hearing impairment before it begins to manifest in a noticeable way (before you start cranking the TV volume up, that is). Catching hearing problems early can help make hearing loss–and resulting health issues–more manageable

3. Hearing Aids

A major part of the reason that depression, dementia, and anxiety are closely linked to hearing loss is that hearing impairments can cause you to isolate yourself. Maybe you don’t go out with your family anymore because you’re tired of asking your niece to speak up. It’s not clear whether social isolation is what causes dementia or depression. But the association is close enough to raise some red flags.

That’s why treating your hearing loss is so important to your health. And, of course, the most common treatment for hearing loss is hearing aids. They come in all different styles (and colors–you can choose the one that suits your personality). And a host of new hearing aid features are designed to help keep you healthier, too.

Managing Risk

Making appointments with your hearing specialist, obviously, won’t solve all of your health problems. And there are some health risks that have nothing to do with your hearing whatsoever. (If you’re worried about health risks, that’s definitely a conversation you should have with your doctor!)

But if you want to avoid becoming a statistic (at least in this regard–we’d all love to be one of those statistics that wins the lottery), then taking care of your hearing is a relatively easy way to put your thumb on the scales.

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