It’s said that perception is 90 percent of reality. Unfortunately, not all perception is truth when it comes to your ear health. Since Healthy Hearing is committed to being the leading online resource for hearing health and May celebrates Better Hearing and Speech Month, we felt it was our responsibility to debunk these five common ear health myths.
Myth #1: Q-tips are a great way to clean my ears. Nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, Q-tips, as well as other items such as hairpins, keys or paper clips, actually impact the wax and drive it deeper into your ear. Over time, this impacted wax can harden and create a multitude of health problems. Since the ear drum is easily reached with a Q-tip, you also run the risk of accidentally puncturing your ear drum while trying to clean it. So what’s the solution? As a general rule, your ears are self-cleaning. Ear wax only collects in the outer 1/3 of the ear canal and is typically washed away as the dead skin naturally sloughs from your ear and daily shower water enters the canal. If you suspect your ears need more cleaning than what your soap and washcloth can provide, consult your doctor.
Myth #2: Supplements won’t improve my hearing. Actually, studies show vitamins, minerals and other dietary nutrients are effective in combating hearing loss. Vitamins A, B complex, C and E provide antioxidant benefits, increase blood circulation, bolster your immune system and fight infection. Minerals such as magnesium, potassium and zinc protect inner ear hair cells and support nerve transmission. Other nutrients such as coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant, support your immune system and enhance circulation. Fish oil and folic acid – those found in leafy green vegetables -- are also effective in preventing or delaying hearing loss.
Of course, before you decide to take any dietary supplement, it’s wise to consult your physician. He can determine the cause of your hearing loss and tell you whether any of these supplements will interfere with medications you’re already taking or cause unwanted side-effects. In the meantime, eat a well-balanced diet. The results will be beneficial to more than just your ear health.
Myth #3: Hearing aids won’t help nerve deafness. This is a double-edged myth as it contains two misleading perceptions. First of all, sensorineural hearing loss is a much more accurate term to use than “nerve deafness.” This type of impairment deals with problems in the inner ear – or more specifically, the cochlea (sensory) and the hearing nerve (neural). Not only is it the most common type of hearing loss, hearing aids are recommended to treat sensorineural hearing loss in almost 90% of cases.
Myth #4: Hearing aids make me look old. If you still believe this myth, it’s time to consult your local hearing center to see the new variety of wireless, virtually invisible, hearing aids on the market today. While not everyone is a candidate to wear the undetectable models, many others are small, flesh-colored and fit unobtrusively behind your ear. Those with a sense of whimsy may opt for the brightly-colored models some hearing aid manufacturers are producing. Communicating effectively is a large part of enjoying a healthy life – and much more youthful than not being able to hear at all.
Myth #5: Hearing aids will restore my hearing back to normal. Hearing aids work with the hair cells in your inner ear to amplify sound. Although they have come a long way in the past 20 years, they won’t completely restore your hearing and you may hear sound differently than before. Many variables determine how well hearing aids will improve your ability to hear, including the type of hearing loss you’re experiencing as well as the severity. Once you’ve had a hearing evaluation to determine what is causing your hearing loss, an audiologist will help you choose the best hearing aid to improve your hearing impairment.