Hand holding hearing protection earmuffs that can prevent hearing loss.

You’ve probably already noticed that your hearing is failing. In most cases, we don’t even realize that our choices are negatively impacting our hearing.

Many types of hearing impairment are avoidable with several basic lifestyle changes. What follows are 6 secrets that will help you protect your hearing.

1. Regulate Your Blood Pressure

Consistently high blood pressure is not good. A study found that people with higher than-average blood pressure are 52% more likely to have hearing loss, not to mention other health concerns.

Take actions to lower your blood pressure and prevent hearing damage. Don’t ignore high blood pressure or wait to consult a doctor. Management of blood pressure includes proper diet, exercise, stress management, and following your doctor’s advice.

2. Stop Smoking

There are plenty of good reasons to quit smoking, here’s yet another: Smokers are 15% more likely to suffer from hearing loss. What’s even more alarming is that there’s a 28% higher probability of someone developing hearing problems if they are frequently exposed to second-hand smoke. The harmful repercussions of second-hand smoke are not only harmful, they also remain in the air for long periods.

If you’re a smoker, protect your hearing and think about quitting. If you spend time with a smoker, take measures to minimize your exposure to second-hand smoke.

3. Keep Your Diabetes in Check

One in four adults is either pre-diabetic or diabetic. A pre-diabetic person is highly likely to get diabetes within 5 years if they don’t make serious lifestyle changes.

Blood vessels that are injured by high blood sugar don’t effectively transport nutrients. Compared to a person who doesn’t have diabetes, a diabetic person has more than twice the chance of developing hearing loss.

If you have diabetes, take the steps required to properly control it. If you are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, safeguard your hearing by making lifestyle changes to avoid it.

4. Lose Some Weight

This isn’t about body image or feeling great about yourself. It’s about your health. Hearing loss and other health disorders increase as your Body Mass Index (BMI) increases. A slightly obese woman (with a 30 to 34 BMI) has a 17% increased chance of developing hearing loss. A moderately obese individual has a 25% risk of hearing loss if they have a BMI of 40.

Work to eliminate some of that extra weight. Something as basic as walking for 30 minutes every day can lower your risk of hearing loss and prolong your life.

5. Don’t Overuse OTC Drugs

Certain over-the-counter (OTC) medications can result in hearing impairment. The risk goes up when these medicines are taken on a regular basis over lengthy periods of time.

Typical over-the-counter drugs that impact hearing include aspirin, NSAIDs (like naproxen, ibuprofen), and acetaminophen. Use these medications in moderation and only with your doctor’s guidance if you need to take them more frequently.

If you’re taking the suggested dose for the periodic headache, studies suggest you’ll most likely be okay. Taking them on a daily basis, however, increases the risk of hearing loss by as much as 40% for men.

Your doctor’s advice should always be followed. But if you’re taking these drugs each day to deal with chronic pain or thin your blood, talk to your doctor about lifestyle changes you can make to lessen your dependence on OTC drugs.

6. Eat More Broccoli

Broccoli is loaded with iron in addition to important nutrients such as vitamins C and K. Iron is essential to a healthy heart and strong blood circulation. Iron helps your blood transport nutrients and oxygen to cells to keep them healthy and nourished.

For vegetarians or people who don’t eat meat very often, eating a sufficient amount of plant-based iron is important. The iron found in plants is not as bioavailable as the iron in meat so people in this group are more likely to be deficient in iron.

More than 300,000 people were examined by Pennsylvania State University. Individuals who have anemia (severe iron deficiency) are two times as likely, according to this research, to experience sensorineural hearing loss than people who have normal iron concentrations. Sensorineural hearing loss is the scientific name for irreversible hearing loss associated with aging.

The inner ear has tiny hair cells that detect sounds and communicate with the brain to transmit the volume and frequency of those sounds. If these hair cells die due to poor circulation or other complications arising from iron deficiency, they never grow back.

You’re never too young to have your hearing checked, so don’t wait until it’s too late. Apply these steps to your life and prevent hearing loss.