In our previous blog, we discussed the impact of dual sensory loss (DSL) on the quality and length of life as we age. We also learned the startling statistic that those who suffer from both vision loss and hearing loss lose 10 years of their lives as opposed to those who live with neither impairment. But how can you avoid becoming one of these alarming numbers?
The audiology team at Hearing Unlimited wants you to know that DSL is preventable. In fact, the reason we discuss these negative outcomes is to stress the importance of prevention. This month, we’ll list a few ways you can be proactive in protecting both your hearing and your vision:
1. Protect Your Senses
The best way to avoid both vision and hearing loss is to practice prevention and sensory safety throughout your life, not just as you age. Protect your hearing - and your children’s - by listening to music at a safe volume and using earplugs when you know you’ll be exposed to loud noise. Over-the-counter NSAID pain relievers like Advil and Motrin may also be linked to hearing loss when taken in excess, so always follow instructions when taking these medications. As for your vision, wearing sunglasses outdoors is essential to protecting your eyes from harmful UV rays. If you smoke, consider quitting for the sake of your eyes - smokers are 3-4 times more likely than non-smokers to develop macular degeneration. Even if you already have damage to either of these senses, starting preventative measures at any time can help to ensure they don’t deteriorate any further.
2. Practice Stress Management
Studies show that prolonged periods of high stress can contribute to both hearing loss and vision loss. In turn, gradually losing more and more of your vision and hearing can itself cause stress. Sometimes stress is an unavoidable part of life, but try practicing stress management techniques before your physical and mental health struggles become a vicious cycle. Mindfulness, regular exercise, and a supportive social circle can all help you manage stress in a healthy way.
3. Optimize Your Diet
While “eating healthy” is always a general goal for patients of any age, some foods contain nutrients that specifically benefit ear and eye health, making them an essential part of a diet geared toward preventing hearing and vision loss. Foods that can help you maintain sharp vision include:
- Leafy greens like kale and spinach
- Raw bell peppers
- Fish, especially salmon
- Sweet potatoes
- Sunflower seeds
If you’re looking to boost your hearing health as well, a few of these eye-friendly foods overlap, such as leafy greens and oily fish. However, here are a few foods whose nutrient content specifically helps maintain great hearing:
4. Have Regular Eye and Ear Exams
Having a continuous, communicative relationship with any of your medical care providers becomes especially important as you age, and your audiologist and ophthalmologist are no exception. Regular eye exams and hearing tests can help catch deterioration early, and your providers can help you develop a plan for preventing any further damage. Your doctors can also help fit you with the appropriate hearing aid or corrective lens to accommodate what you’ve already lost.
While the threat of dual sensory loss is frightening, patients are not helpless to prevent this condition from progressing. In partnership with your ophthalmologist and your audiologist, you can develop a home regimen for maintaining the health of your eyes and ears for the rest of your life.
The audiologists at Hearing Unlimited have the expertise to help you prevent hearing loss before it’s too late. Get your healthy hearing plan started today - contact us online or by phone to schedule an appointment, and be sure to take advantage of our services and resources.