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You begin to realize that your hearing sense is very precious when it starts to weaken or when you lose it, so, it’s helpful to know how to protect it. There are several scenarios that can affect your hearing. It could be as simple as excess ear wax, though it could also be related to several other issues such as injuries, infections, allergies and medications.

In this short article I will describe the main causes of hearing problems as well as herbs and other naturopathic supports that may be helpful to maintain good hearing health.

Common causes of ear problems:

• Blocked ear canal – in many cases it’s blocked from dry and dense ear wax, though it could be due to foreign substances/objects, cysts, or even insects

• Ear infections – bacterial infections can develop which affect either the middle ear (often in early childhood) or the external ear canal (eg: Swimmer’s ear)

• Injuries – head injuries and direct trauma to the ear canal can lead to swelling and reduced auditory nerve function, or a swollen ear canal which reduces sound transmission and a sore ear; excess noise is also a form of trauma that damages the delicate inner ear cells and may lead to permanent reduced hearing

• Allergies and intolerances – when there are allergies and intolerances you typically experience an itchy ear canal; there can be excess pressure in the area which leads to fluid build-up and reduced hearing ability

• Dietary changes – poor nutrition can predispose you to hearing loss (see more below)

• Medications – common medications that can damage your hearing include aminoglycoside antibiotics and cisplatin chemotherapy

• Aging

Improving ear health:

• Regular checkups – it’s a good idea to get regular health checkups which will include an ear examination. If you suffer from a persistent ear problem, you may need to see an ear, nose and throat specialist (ENT).

• Ear cleaning – this involves removing the excess wax that sits at the outside of your ear canal; simply wiping the area with a moist cloth can be sufficient. Pharmacies and health stores may also carry ear cleaning kits that include ear oil drops and a method of flushing your ear with water; consult with your doctor or pharmacist if you have a damaged ear drum, recent surgery, or if you have an unknown cause of existing dizziness, rash, ear pain, infection.

• Nutrients for ear health – correcting inadequate levels of omega-3 fats, folate and vitamin B12 have shown to be of benefit for hearing, particularly as you age.

• Dietary changes – removing foods that bother you may help, common culprits are wheat, soy, citrus and dairy; a low salt diet may also be of benefit if local ear fluid pressure is part of your ear problem.

Herbs for hearing health

There are several herbs that may be of help for ear health, these include…

• Garlic – this herb is commonly used for ear infections when crushed and mixed with a food grade oil; traditional herbal formulae often additionally include the herb mullein.

• Diuretic herbs – drinking these as teas may help reduce swelling in the body, including the swelling associated with hearing problems; some examples include Dandelion Leaf, Horsetail and Nettle Leaf.

Other herbs that may be of help include: Yarrow, Chamomile, Oregano, and Lavender.

Dr. Rahim Habib ND
About the Author

Rahim Habib is a registered naturopathic doctor with over 15 years of experience in general family practice. He has a special interest in helping patients comprehensively detoxifying their bodies for preventative and therapeutic benefit. He also has a special interest in children’s health, assisting kids in their learning and behavioural health with conditions such as ADHD, Autism spectrum, asthma, allergies and childhood obesity. He also helps adults with chronic conditions, such as thyroid disorders, infertility, inflammation, obesity, autoimmunity, dementia and cancer care. He is the director of the Four Seasons Naturopathic Clinic for Detoxification and Healing and can be reached at 905-597-7201 or www.FamilyNaturopath.ca.