10. Bake a sweet potato for dinner tonight. A wonderful source of vitamin A, it can also help your hearing because, according to animal studies, too little of this nutrient may increase the inner ear’s sensitivity to noise, thus potentially increasing the risk of noise-induced hearing loss.
11. Tape a tennis ball into the back of your partner’s PJs (use duct tape). It’s a great way to prevent snoring. Some people who really saw wood produce about as much noise as a chain saw, or so it seems. Over time, that noise can damage your ears. Another option: Send the snoring one to the couch.
12. Wear your seat belt and drive defensively, not aggressively. That way you’re less likely to get into an accident, which means your airbags are less likely to inflate. British researchers find that inflating airbags are loud enough to contribute to hearing loss. Additionally, head trauma is a major cause of hearing loss.
13. Get five servings of veggies a day. When researchers explored the connection between a variety of lifestyle factors and sudden deafness in 109 patients, comparing their deaf patients to those with normal hearing, they found those who ate the most fresh veggies had the lowest risk of sudden deafness.
14. Ask your doctor to clean out the wax in your ears. That’s often all that’s needed to improve your hearing. Just don’t try it yourself; sticking pointed objects into your ear canal is a no-no. If you want to de-wax at home, try wax-softening ear drops, sold at drugstores. Follow up with some forceful squirts of warm water from a bulb syringe (also sold in drugstores) to get the softened wax out.
15. Go to bed and rest when you have a cold. That gives your body the strength it needs to fight off the infection and reduces the risk that the cold will develop into something more serious, like an upper respiratory tract infection or ear infection, which can eventually affect your hearing.
16. Make earplugs a regular part of your wardrobe. Keep a pair in your purse, in your car, in the garage with the gardening tools, and by the lawn mower, suggests Suzanne Hasenstab, Ph.D., director of audiology and professor of otolaryngology at Virginia Commonwealth University
in Richmond. So if you’re cutting the grass, find yourself in the car next to someone blaring the bass, or realize too late that the live music is a little too live, you’re always prepared to protect your hearing.
17. Have a friend stand next to you while you’re plugged into your iPod (or Walkman or other musical device). If your friend can hear the sound through your earphones, says Dr. Hasenstab, you’ve got the volume turned up too loud.
18. Try a ginkgo biloba supplement. Some studies suggest the herb might not only help with ringing in the ears, or tinnitus, but may also help treat some types of hearing loss by improving blood flow to the ears. The herb takes weeks to work, so be patient.