Today, it seems like there is a hack for everything from decorating your home to finally dropping that last stubborn five pounds, so what about hearing? Are there little tricks you can do to not just hear better now but to avoid hearing loss later?
Urban Dictionary refers to a life hack as a tool or technique that makes some aspect of a person’s life easier or more efficient. Why couldn’t you apply that concept to your hearing the same way you do other things like using your iron to make a grilled cheese sandwich or duct tape to open a stubborn jar? Consider seven fun and fabulous life hacks that will take the strain out of trying to hear.
1. Turn it to the left
You have two ears, but when you really need to focus on what is being said, turn to the left so your right ear is facing the person speaking. Studies show that when it comes to processing information like speech, the right ear is the better choice. This is possible because the left side of the brain does that work and it is directly connected to the right ear. If you are struggling to hear during a conversation or when watching TV, a simple shift of the head might be just the boost you need to clarify things.
2. Or to the other side…
On the other hand, the right side of the brain is a better choice for things that don’t require as much focus, such as listening to music. If you are really just looking to lie back, close your eyes and enjoy some tunes, put the speaker on the left side for better results.
By focusing the sound on the left, you can avoid using headphones or earbuds, too. They are often too loud and will eventually cause damage. Instead, turn the volume down and listen from the left.
3. Work it
You exercise your body to make it stronger, right? You can apply that same principle to your hearing. Sit quietly with your eyes closed and just focus on the sounds. Figure out which one is furthest away from you. Can you hear anyone talking? What are they saying? How about environmental noise? Practice identifying each different sound you hear. Listen to an audio recording of a book while reading along.
These kinds of hearing exercises can improve your hearing. They teach your brain to easily pick out the sounds that matter and filter out the rest of the noise.
4. Face it
The University of California San Francisco Medical Center suggests people should get used to facing one another when having conversations. As a society, we spend too much time yelling from room to room and talking where we can’t see each other’s faces. During face-to-face conversation, you use all your senses to better understand the conversation, putting less strain on your ears. Even if the other person is wearing a mask, you can tell a lot from the eyes and gestures.
5. Stand back
There is no rule that says you have to stand in the front row of a rock concert to hear the music. In fact, chances are the closer you are, the less you will actually understand. Next time you buy tickets to hear your favorite band, stand back so you can see everything that is going on and really understand the music at the same time. Your ears will thank you.
When you do go to a concert or anywhere with loud volumes, bring ear protection, too. This protects your future hearing because loud noise damages the delicate internal mechanisms of the ear.
6. Control your exposure
You have full control over what noise your ears are exposed to, so set some basic rules for yourself. For example, if you must wear headphones or earbuds when listening to music, limit it to just 60 minutes a day. You can continue listening if you want, just lose the equipment and listen naturally.
Follow the 60 percent rule, too, when wearing hearing devices for music. Stick to no more than 60 percent of the maximum volume to keep your ears safe.
7. Screen your hearing regularly
You should plan to have a professional hearing test every few years to monitor your hearing. It’s a practical way to measure your hearing prowess in the privacy in your own home. If you notice a decrease, then make an appointment with your ear doctor to find out why. The earlier you detect and deal with hearing problems, the better. The home tests are just one more monitoring tool at your disposal.
And here’s a bonus tip: If you have any hearing loss, get it treated. Hearing involves your ears – but it also involves your brain, and your brain needs stimulation to stay “fit.” So ask your hearing specialist if your hearing loss requires treatment.
It’s not hard to be smart about your ear health. The little things you do now will add up to better hearing as you grow older.