Mild to severe hearing loss is a common problem that can be prompted by age, certain diseases, and prolonged exposure to loud noise. Unfortunately, most ear damage caused by these factors can’t be reversed. That’s not true, however, of conductive hearing loss, which occurs when the outer or middle ear cannot carry sound waves to the inner ear due a blockage — most often ear wax or a foreign object within the ear canal. Not only is correcting conductive hearing loss possible, it also doesn’t require spending thousands on hearing aids or over-the-counter products. Below are a few ways to repair and enhance your auditory perception.
To Clear Ear Canals: Apply Olive Oil
A buildup of earwax can narrow ear canals and, in turn, hamper hearing. The fix could be as simple as dropping a small amount of warmed olive oil in each ear twice daily for two weeks. The health professionals at Oxford University Hospitals say this fruity oil — the same stuff you cook with, in fact — helps to soften earwax. To apply:
- Warm the oil to body temperature.
- Laying over a towel on your left side. carefully squeeze a few drops of the warmed olive oil into your right ear.
- Using your index finger, gently push on the cartilage at the front of your ear opening (tragus) 3 to 4 times.
- Remain on your side for five minutes, then turn and repeat in your left ear.
- Perform this twice daily for two weeks. If you’re hearing is not improved, consult with your ENT or an audiologist.
To Help Calm Inflammation: Open a Window
Closing your house over the winter puts you in close contact with household allergens. This causes the body to release histamine that clogs “middle ears” where sound is processed. Instead of the added cost (and potential side effects) of using antihistamines, simply open a window. The experts at Allergy & Asthma Centers S.C. note that opening your windows, especially after cleaning, allows airborne allergens to escape while ushering in fresh air.
To Restore Your Filter: Earbuds
Hearing loss can make it difficult to listen and understand conversations, including those that occur over the phone. For those with sensorineural loss, wherein the inner ear or hearing nerves are damaged, the issue is especially acute. A small study in 2022, however, yielded interesting results. Its findings suggest that smartphone-bundled earbuds like AirPods Pro can serve as hearing assistance devices for adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss. Why? The researchers found that these earbuds met four of the five criteria for personal sound amplification products. The researchers also found that in quiet environments with no background noise and when noise approached study participants laterally, those using earbuds showed similar improvements in speech recognition performance as those using premium hearing aids.
Bonus: Using an app to switch on your earbuds’ background-filtering feature like Live Listen for iOS or Google Sound Amplifier for Android can help dim background noise while amplifying the sound of voices.
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.