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Healthy Heart, Healthy Hearing?

When you hop on an exercise bike you are doing fabulous things for your heart. Same thing applies when you take time to meditate or eat heart-healthy foods.

But are you also doing great things for your hearing when you do great things for your heart? The answer to that question is a resounding yes.healthy hearing, healthy heart

February is Heart Month and across the country people are paying extra attention to their health. According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Heart Month campaign began in 1958 when the Foundation, led by Dr. Wilfred Bigelow, committed to raise $600,000 to fund heart research. Today, the February Heart Month canvass is a national, community-based fundraising campaign.

Jon Waterhouse, Manager of Professional Practice for Connect Hearing Canada says he finds it interesting that there are so many ways that healthy-heart and hearing health goals work hand-in-hand.

“Foods like salmon and bananas are exceptional foods to eat because they don't just help your heart, they help so many other things as well, including your hearing,” says Waterhouse. “Taking the time to get quiet and relax with non-stressful activities like spa treatments or ice skating – as we suggested in our previous blog Five Hearing Friendly Romantic Valentine' s Day Excursions – are perfect for overall improved health in general.”

That point is driven home by Audicus.com, which lists five food categories that can help improve hearing health and prevent hearing loss. The list includes many items that are also good for a healthy heart:

Omega 3 fats and Vitamin D: Salmon, tuna, trout and sardines, which can have highly positive effects on hearing loss.

Anti-oxidants & Folic Acid: Spinach, asparagus, beans, broccoli and nuts.

Magnesium: Bananas, potatoes, artichokes or broccoli.

Zinc: Audicus.Com says “you can increase your inner ear’s resistance to the boon of age related hearing loss by keeping a healthy dose of Zinc, which can be found in dark chocolate or oysters, among many.”

Vitamin C, E & Glutathione: Vegetables (e.g. bell peppers) and fruits (e.g. oranges).

It doesn't end with good food. Open Otorhinolaryngology Journal says in an article entitled “Sudden Deafness Caused by Lifestyle Stress: Pathophysiological Mechanisms and New Therapeutic Perspectives”, wrote that reduced or restricted blood flow in the internal auditory artery of the inner ear can lead to sudden deafness. Sudden deafness is a loss of hearing that develops over several hours, and it may be accompanied by tinnitus and vertigo. It affects between 5 and 20 out of every 100,000 individuals. Many aetiologies have been proposed for sudden deafness, including cochlear membrane rupture, microangiopathic processes, viral infection, autoimmune disorders, Ménière’s disease, schwannoma and meningioma. Processes related to stress have also been investigated in association with sudden deafness.

In conclusion, Open Otorhinolaryngology Journal says sudden deafness can be triggered by stress, which leads to vasoconstriction, haemoconcentration and microcirculation occlusion in the inner ear. Treatment consists of eliminating the stress, as well as managing future stress to achieve a full recovery, re-establishing blood flow and physically rehabilitating the cochlear hair cells using sounds.

We admit, those last two paragraphs were not exactly easy reading but the point is clear - taking care of your body, eating right and finding ways to turn off the stresses and distractions of the world are not only great ways to help your heart – they're great ways to protect your hearing.

Waterhouse says he hopes Heart Month will inspire people not just to take their hearts seriously, but also their hearing. With a month-long focus on the heart, Waterhouse is hopeful more people will take advantage of a free hearing test, which is offered at Connect Hearing clinics across Canada.  

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