February is American Heart Month. Did you know there is a strong correlation between hearing health and heart health? While there is not a direct cause between hearing loss and heart disease, evidence suggests a relationship between the two.
Heart disease occurs when blood vessels become narrowed or blocked. According to the American Journal of Audiology, it is believed that cardiovascular disease (CVD) can reduce blood flow to the ear and in turn cause damage to different parts of the auditory system. This damage typically results in sensorineural, or permanent hearing loss.
Therefore, maintaining a healthy heart can reduce your risk of developing hearing loss. There are various ways you can take care of your heart and protect your hearing. Consider implementing these lifestyle changes into your life:
Nutritious Diet: Evaluate and reflect upon your eating habits. Here are just some questions you can start to ask yourself so you can make some real changes to your eating habits:
- Do you eat enough vegetables per day?
- Are you including fruit, protein, fiber, carbohydrates, and healthy fats in your diet?
- Are you eating enough per day?
- Are you over-consuming per day?
- Do you find yourself hungry and snacking at night?
- Do you crave junk food and sweets frequently?
Of course, you do not need to entirely cut out all of the unhealthy and junk foods. A good rule to follow is the 80/20 rule, which essentially means 80% healthy foods and 20% guilty pleasures. Because really, who wants to live a life full of restrictions? Not to mention, limiting yourself from food commonly leads to binge eating, or not being able to sustain a healthy diet. This is why it is so important you don’t deprive yourself entirely of foods that make you happy. Just make sure it’s not something you are doing all of the time. Balance is key!
Exercise: Movement is so important for our everyday life. Even if it just walking each day, it can make a tremendous impact on our physical and our mental health. Exercise also helps increase blood flow, which is good for your heart and ears! Find exercise that you enjoy and make it a habit to incorporate it into your daily routine. Disciple and staying consistent, even on days where you don’t feel like it, is essential. No one wants to work out all the time, so holding yourself accountable and following through on your actions is what is going to lead to results.
Manage Stress: Stress is a leading contributor to problems with your heart. Cortisol is a hormone released in the body as a response to stress. Studies suggest that high levels of cortisol from long-term stress can increase blood cholesterol, triglycerides, blood sugar, and blood pressure. All of the following are lead risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Healthy stress is actually positive for humans to have. However, too much stress can lead to chronic stress and in turn cause heart problems. So, how can we manage stress so it is staying at a healthy level? Exercise is one of the main ways you can reduce your stress. It is proven to increase serotonin and feelings of happiness. Other stress-reduces include spending time in nature, reducing screen time, seeing family and friends, taking a vacation, reading, practicing yoga, and more. Remember to check in yourself and allow yourself to rest and recharge when necessary. Over-working and committing to too much is the fastest way to increase stress and lead to burnout.
By following these strategies, you can take charge of your heart and hearing health. If you are experiencing problems with your hearing health, our expert audiologists at Lake Shore Audiology can help. Schedule an appointment by calling us at 716-674-4188 or contact us today.