Hearing Loss Alternative Treatments
Before delving into the details of this article, I would like to take you through a number of facts backed by research from the World Health Organization.
1. Anyone suffering from any kind of hearing loss can benefit greatly if their problem is identified early on.
2. Almost 500 million people worldwide (466m to be precise) have what is referred to as disabling hearing loss. Children take up 34 million of this figure.
3. By the year 2050, this number will rise to an astounding 900million.
4. Hearing loss can be caused by genetic factors, birth complications, disease, drug use, noise and age.
5. 60 percent of hearing loss in children can be prevented.
6. Excessive noise during recreation activities renders 1.1 billion young people at risk of hearing loss.
7. From the economical side of things, hearing loss that goes unaddressed costs the world an estimated $750 billion.
Now that the tough facts are out there, we can now learn a thing or two to help mitigate some of the risks and implications we have seen above. I will begin with an introduction to hearing loss.
Take a minute to think about one of your regular days. Think of the social, professional and other situations you find yourself in. Just how important is your hearing? To be honest, most people are simply not cognizant of their auditory capability until it is no longer with them or until its existence is threatened either by disease or other factors.
Your auditory capability determines how a lot of your interactions go and become especially functionally important when you need to comprehend, perceive, and react. As long as you are unable to hear as well as a normal, healthy person does, you are said to suffer from hearing loss. A normal person will have a 25-decibel threshold on both years or even better than this and in both ears.
There are various classifications of hearing loss:
- Moderate or
If you have come across the term ‘hard of hearing’, this simply means that the said individual has hearing loss which may be classified anywhere between mild and severe. Once you are classified as clinically deaf, it means that you suffer from profound hearing loss. Such patients hear almost none or absolutely no sound at all and have to, therefore, rely on sign language to pass across and perceive messages.
There are many treatment options when it comes to hearing loss. Most times, the treatment will depend on the cause of your hearing loss and the extent of it. For example, is it mild or profound? How long have you had it? Is it reversible? Mainstream treatment options may include implants, hearing aids, certain types of medication and even therapy.
Alternative treatment options also exist for hearing loss. They may be used in isolation or in tandem with more mainstream treatment options to manage, mitigate or reverse hearing loss. Let us now examine some of these.
Magnesium and Hearing Loss
One of the most widely discussed alternative treatment options for hearing loss is Magnesium. Part of the reason why it comes so highly recommended is that:
1. It has very few side effects or what are called contraindications if at all.
2. It is already widely used in the treatment and management of other illnesses
3. It is an affordable option
4. It can significantly reduce damage to the cochlear
Magnesium is required for most of the cellular functions which occur in the body yet for most of us, tests will indicate that we are almost deficient of this important substance. Scientific studies have shown that magnesium deficiency may lead to an individual being highly susceptible to hearing loss induced by noise. A deficiency in magnesuim and hearing loss goes hand in hand. Oral magnesium is therefore usually applied both as a prophylaxis and as a treatment option for hearing loss.
Vitamin D and Hearing Loss
For most people, vitamin D is simply the answer to strong bone formation and this is not incorrect. New studies have however shown that vitamin D is also instrumental in the prevention of hearing loss.
The bone formation factor still remains relevant even in this case because as we age, our bones tend to become weaker. Vitamin D works on the bones in the body; all the bones including those in the ear region. Our skin produces vitamin D but there first has to be pre-vitamin D in order for this to happen. Older people have less pre-vitamin D and unless this is supplemented orally or by extensive exposure to the sun, the deficiency is bound to set in. It has been proven that low levels of Vitamin d and hearing loss can occur simultaneously.
Vitamin D levels can be affected by a number of factors including but not restricted to:
1. Medical conditions
3. Use of drugs which inhibit Vitamin D production
4. Lack of sunshine
8. Alcohol consumption
Folate and Hearing Loss
The one thing that is emerging in recent research studies surrounding hearing loss is the fact that nutritional imbalance cannot be ignored. Folate is essentially a B-Vitamin complex that can be found in several foods. Unlike other vitamins, our bodies cannot make it. It is also sometimes referred to as folic acid or Folacin. Folic acid pills or folate and hearing loss prevention has been proven effective in some studies.
Folate is crucial in the body in the following ways:
- formation and repairing of genetic material
- inner ear health
- in cell division
- prevention of depression
- reducing cancer risk especially breast cancer and colorectal cancer
- helps in breaking down the amino acid homocysteine
- in embryos folate helps in preventing defects in the neural tube
Largely an under-glorified vitamin, folate is instrumental in the prevention of hearing loss especially in the elderly. A deficiency of this vital vitamin component has been associated with loss of hearing which is accompanied by tinnitus (perceiving sound even when no external sound is actually present).
A study was carried out in the Netherlands (this is a country with a folate fortification program) and the results showed that this vitamin actually does slow hearing loss that comes as a result of age. When taking your supplements to be sure to talk to your doctor about vitamin B9 because we are aging with each day that passes. Green leafy vegetables, fruits, and naturally occurring plant proteins should also be commonplace in your diet.
Turmeric vs Curcumin for Hearing Loss
The best way to go about understand the difference between these two is to look at each aspect independently before comparing them. We’ll explain what turmeric is and how it helps the body then later explore curcumin in the same way. Let us get started.
Turmeric for Hearing Loss
Turmeric is like the loyal aid that keeps proving itself over and over again. Since ancient times, this spice has been used for a wide range of health benefits not to mention the fact that it can turn a dull, bland meal into a plate of heavenly scented delight.
It looks a lot like ginger and this because it is a flowering plant Curcuma longa that actually belongs to the ginger family. When you peel back its thin top layer, you are met with a jubilantly bright yellow flesh that has a wonderful aroma.
Turmeric can be consumed raw or cooked. It can also be processed by drying and crushing it into a powder which is how most people consume it. Here are some of its most common health benefits:
1. used as a skin toner and brightener
2. used as acne medication
3. used to boost the body’s antioxidant capacity
4. helps in the prevention and treatment of various cancers
5. has anti-inflammatory properties
6. used in treating tinnitus which comes about as a result of swelling in the ear
Curcumin for Hearing Loss
Curcumin is also referred to as diferuloylmethane. It is the main natural polyphenol found in Curcuma longa; it is essentially a component found in turmeric. While the medical research world is only now starting to truly dissect this polyphenol, some parts of the world have been using it for hundreds of years. They may not refer to it in scientific terms or give it chemical formulas but they recognized its benefits long before the ‘developed’ world. Here are a few examples:
1. India – used a lot in curries not just for its flavour and colour but also for medicinal benefits
2. China – among other uses, the Chinese use curcumin as a colorant since it is the ingredient in turmeric responsible for the bright yellow
3. Thailand - curcumin has several cosmetic benefits and can be found not just in creams and lotions but also in soaps and makeup
4. Korea – the Koreans spice their favourite beverages and drinks with curcumin both for flavour and health benefits
5. Malaysia – used as an antiseptic
6. Pakistan – used as an anti-inflammatory agent
7. Japan – the Japanese use curcumin in their tea
It is important to note that most people use turmeric the spice or plant product which they see but the actual benefit comes from curcumin. The two are inseparable because turmeric contains curcumin. The best way to address this difference is to look at quantities of curcumin present in turmeric and how effective they are especially when it comes to hearing loss benefits. Studies show that hearing loss and Curcumin intake makes the situation better
Now while it is brilliant to add turmeric to virtually every meal you cook every night, this may not help you as much as you would like it to. In fact, watching Asian communities such as Indians, you will be tempted to wonder how much turmeric is too much. However, the quantities of curcumin naturally occurring in turmeric are not high enough as required to be as effective so as to aid with hearing loss.
Additionally, turmeric used naturally and curcumin all on its own are not absorbed well into the blood. There is a need to use supplements. Curcumin on its own unless paired with black pepper will not be fully absorbed into the bloodstream. Black pepper contains the compound piperine which improves the absorption of the curcumin contained in turmeric. It is facts such as these which sometimes make me wonder just how much the Asian community knew about the body. They were already doing this – eating meals rich in turmeric (and by extension curcumin) and black pepper. It is argued that this among other reasons is why their populations are generally healthier and have longer life spans.
Good nutrition, a balanced diet, and a generally healthy lifestyle are a plus for you on any given day. By the time you get to age twenty, your hearing begins to deteriorate and you ideally should do all you can to slow this process down. The tragedy is that most people do not even notice this gradual change and it creeps up on them over time getting to worrying levels.
The choices you make each day affect your hearing either positively or negatively. Your environment, how you live and the type of diet you subject your body to determine how your hearing progresses over the years.
While more mainstream treatment options for hearing loss are very effective, pairing them with alternative treatment options is always a good move. The best thing about alternative treatment plans, especially those that are dietary, is that they can be a deliberate lifestyle choice way before the onset of hearing loss. Doing this might actually keep SSHL (sensorineural hearing loss) at bay. Rather than wait until you begin experiencing hearing loss, why not ensure that your diet is rich in folate, vitamin D, turmeric and black pepper?
You can also talk to your Ear Nose and Throat specialist about supplements if hearing loss is something you feel strongly about. They will advise you on the way forward and tell you how you can slowly integrate these into your daily routine. Asian herbal therapy is also a major area of focus for research experts because they have been shown to be effective. Some of the herbal options you may want to consider include:
- The hawthorn berry
- Authentic Chinese herbs like rehmannia, schizandra magnetite and wild yam
- Ginkbo biloba
No matter what your current hearing situation is to remember it is always a good idea to prevent rather than treat.