Hearing Loss

What is hearing loss?

We don't expect that we need to define loss of hearing for you, but we'd like to devote this space to a brief explanation of how hearing works. The "ear" really consists of three major parts, an outer visible ear and canal, a middle ear space, and a portion deeply embedded in the bone of the skull called the inner ear. The visible ear, called the pinna, catches sound waves from noises around you and directs them down the ear canal, where they strike the eardrum and make it vibrate. The vibrating drum moves a series of three tiny bones attached to it that attach in turn to another drumlike membrane on the other side of the middle ear space where the bones of hearing lie. Movement of this other drum sets up waves of motion in the inner ear fluid, which move hairlike nerve endings that line the cochlea, the actual "organ of hearing" in the inner ear. Stimulation of these nerve endings sends nerve impulses through the nerve of hearing to your brain, and you "hear" the noise.

Hearing LossHearing loss can occur for a variety of reasons: damage to the tiny bones that move with the eardrum (called a conductive hearing loss, bone deafness, or otosclerosis), or damage to the hairlike nerve fibers in the cochlea or to the nerve of hearing itself (called a sensorineural hearing loss or nerve deafness). When the problem originates in the inner ear structures, dizziness and ringing of the ears may accompany the loss of hearing—a disorder called Meniere's syndrome. Although chronic exposure to noise promotes hearing loss more than nutritional factors, certain nutrients and dietary restrictions may help to lessen the damage. Let's take a look at these in Hearing loss diet.

Hearing loss nutrition. What makes hearing loss worse?

• Sugar can cause inner ear problems (bringing on bouts of dizziness, ringing, and decreased hearing) in people with Meniere's syndrome. It may also do so in other people prone to low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). Recommendation: Eliminate or sharply curtail your intake of concentrated sugars, sugary foods and snacks, and the starchy vegetables known to quickly increase blood sugar (potatoes, wheat, corn, and foods made with these starches).

•  Saturated fats have received a bevy of research attention in hearing loss because people with high blood fat readings (cholesterol and triglycerides) often suffer impairment of hearing as well. The probable cause in these cases is arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) in the tiny arteries that supply blood to the cochlea. With decreased blood flow, the tiny hairlike nerve fibers can't receive proper nourishment and oxygen, and they wither or die. These fats also contribute to excess production of earwax. Recommendation: If you have high cholesterol or triglycerides and you are losing your hearing, returning your blood values to normal may help.

• Food sensitivities may be the culprit behind hearing loss, ringing, and dizziness in some people with Meniere's syndrome. If you suffer from these symptoms and have tried drugs to combat the spinning dizziness without much success, food allergy or sensitivity is one avenue to explore. Recommendation: Consult an allergy specialist to help direct your investigation into possible food sensitivities and allergies. Using blood testing and skin testing, an allergist can narrow down the list of possible food culprits, each of which has to be checked by a systematic elimination trial. See Food Allergy in this section for more details of how to conduct such an elimination trial. If you have no access to an allergy specialist, you can use the commonsense approach. Divide foods into groups: milk products, citrus, beef, seafood, fruits, chocolate, and so on. Begin your search by eliminating whole groups of foods for 3 weeks—for example, all dairy products. If your symptoms disappear, you will at least be suspicious that something in that group caused them, but not precisely what. Then remstitute individual dairy foods one at a time to see if symptoms recur. If they do, you'll have found a culprit. Certainly, doing this kind of systematic search takes time and effort, but if it improves a daily misery, then it's worth the trouble. Good luck with your search.

 
 
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