You Can Make Yourself Hear Better

How To Improve Your Hearing

What did you say? If you’re finding it increasingly difficult to hear what people are saying, you’re certainly not alone. Presbycusis, gradual hearing loss that occurs as we age, is common. According to the National Institutes of Health, an estimated one-third of Americans between the ages of 65 and seventy-five, and close to one-half of those above that age range, have some degree of hearing loss.

Hearing experts believe that heredity and chronic exposure to loud noises are the main factors that contribute to hearing loss over time. But there are other factors as well that can prevent your ears from picking up sounds as well as they could.  The following techniques may help you turn up the volume.

Get rid of Earwax Buildup
As wax builds up inside your ears, it can sometimes interfere with your hearing. Although there’s an alternative-health process known as ear candling, which uses a hollow candle placed just over the ear to remove earwax via a flame, it’s better to go to your doctor and see what he or she recommends. Never try to clean your ears with a Q-tip; it will probably push the wax back further into your ear.

Block Tinnitus Symptoms
Many audiologists have had success "tricking" the human brain to cancel constant ringing in the ears. With something called phase inversion, the doctor works with the patient to discover the pitches of the ringing that are heard in each ear. The doctor can then program a small hand-held listening device to play back the same pitches but in a different sequence. The patient is instructed to listen to the playback with headphones each day. Over time, the brain becomes accustomed to hearing the new pitches. That can cancel out the ringing of tinnitus. With regular use, the effects of tinnitus can diminish or disappear completely.

Train your ears to really listen If you want to pick up subtler sounds, learning to center your attention on your hearing is an excellent method. You can do this in a variety of ways by paying real attention to the radio, television, music or the environmental sounds around you. Try closing your eyes and listening deeply to what you are hearing. Make a mental note of all the different sounds you hear. Listen for the subtle sounds in the background and see if you can distinguish where they are originating. Try this type of listening for 20 minutes to 1/2 hour each day. As you become more accustomed to using your hearing actively, you may notice that your passive hearing naturally improves, too. Spend time in quiet environments Enjoy as many low-key activities as possible so your ears can adjust to the overall environment volume. In fact, try to spend time in perfect silence. Men who spend time in high-volume environments where saws or other electrical equipment is used should get a headphone-like ear protector. Keep an eye on your ears Get your ears regularly checked. It’s the best way to deal with current problems or to ward off new ones. Robin Westen is ThirdAge’s medical reporter. Check for her daily updates. See what others have to say about this story or leave a comment of your own.
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