Hearing loss: The popular diet that may have ‘a direct association’ with ‘sudden deafness’

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Hearing loss is a natural part of the ageing cycle, and the condition can be suffered to varying degrees. In some cases, it can strike in the space of just a few days. Several studies have suggested the onset of hearing loss could be interlinked with the availability of nutrients in the diet. Western foods have been identified as a culprit in one study.

According to early research, a direct association was found between Western food and idiopathic sudden deafness.

Western dietary pattern is generally typified by a high intake of pre-packaged foods, refined grains, red meat, sugary goods, and high-fat dietary products.

One early study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology identified the diet as a potential risk factor for sudden hearing loss.

The researchers noted: “This study suggests that a largely Western diet might be a risk factor for idiopathic sudden deafness, a traditional Japanese diet might be a preventive factor for this condition or both.

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“These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that vascular factors are an important cause of idiopathic sudden deafness, although the possibility of residual confounding by unmeasured confounders such as socio-economist status cannot be ruled out.”

The researchers came to the finding after assessing the food intake of 164 participants from a self-administered usual food frequency questionnaire.

The survey asked about the intake of 25 foods, enabling scientists to classify participants according to the frequency of intake of Western foods, and to the frequency of intake of Japanese foods.

The results revealed an increased risk of sudden deafness for participants who frequently consumed Western foods.

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Conversely, the risk of sudden deafness was low in participants who frequently consumed Japanese foods.

The authors noted: “A direct association of sudden deafness with Western food intake was evident for flat-type hearing loss.”

Flat hearing loss is diagnosed when test results show that hearing has been compromised at all frequencies.

This can cause an inability to hear low tones or your voice could sound very loud.

Sudden deafness, also known as sudden sensorineural hearing loss, usually occurs all at once or over a few days.

People with this type of loss tend to discover their symptoms upon waking up in the morning.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders recognises a variety of risk factors for the disease.

The health body adds, however, that only 10 percent of cases diagnosed with the disorder have an identifiable cause.

Some conditions known to predispose individuals to sudden hearing loss include infections, head trauma and an array of autoimmune diseases.

How to avoid hearing loss

According to the Hearing Health Foundation, several nutrients confer protect against hearing loss.

Potassium – found in bananas, potatoes, and black beans – “plays a large role in the way that the inner ear functions and converts sound into signals for the brain to interpret”.

Omega-3 fatty acids are another key weapon in the prevention of age-related hearing loss.

The nutrient can be found in walnuts, flax seeds, chia seeds, fortified eggs, fortified milk, oysters and salmon.

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