Researchers have found that the mineral magnesium plays an essential role in hearing health, although exactly how it works is unclear. Magnesium may reduce your sensitivity to noise and reduce symptoms of tinnitus. Although magnesium is found in a wide variety of foods, it’s possible you aren’t getting enough of it in your diet to provide for your hearing health.
Diet and Hearing Health
During the past 20 years, research into the role of diet on hearing has suggested a whole range of vitamins and supplements that contribute to the health of your hearing. Vitamins A, C, D and E can help decrease your susceptibility to noise and improve your overall nerve health. Vitamin D seems especially important to the health of your ears, and more importantly, a deficiency of magnesium in your diet may impair your body’s ability to absorb this important vitamin. Minerals such as copper, iodine, iron, potassium and zinc are also recommended for hearing health.
Magnesium and Hearing
An overabundance of the neurotransmitter glutamate is thought to cause tinnitus, but magnesium seems to work as a glutamate inhibitor, which may help to explain its effectiveness in treating tinnitus. Magnesium may help to protect your ears from noise-induced hearing loss. A study in the May-June 2003 issue of the "Journal of the American Academy of Audiology" indicated that magnesium deficiency was linked to a higher susceptibility to noise damage. Magnesium may also guard against ototoxicity, which is ear damage caused as a side effect of some drugs, including antibiotics and chemotherapy agents. Magnesium supplementation is generally considered safe, but can be toxic in large amounts. Consult a doctor or qualified nutritionist before taking dietary supplements.
Sensitivity to Sound
For people with hyperacusis, high-pitched noises such as car alarms and leaf blowers may be acutely painful, but even sounds considered normal may become uncomfortable for them. Ringing in the ears, often accompanies hyperacusis. According to the Hyperacusis Information Site, there is no direct medical test for hyperacusis. Patients are usually referred to otolaryngologists or audiologists to have their hearing tested. Hyperacusis and tinnitus may be caused by trauma or chronic ear infections, or even be a side effect of some medications. Other types of sound sensitivity include phonophobia and misophonia. Phonophobia is the fear of sounds, especially particular frequencies or noises. Misophonic people dislike sound to the point that they try to isolate themselves from all noise.
Noise, Stress and Anxiety Disorders
People who have magnesium deficiency may suffer from anxiety disorders and be very sensitive to sound. A magnesium deficiency can cause increased levels of adrenaline in your system, making you feel tense and anxious. When you get stressed, your adrenal glands release adrenaline, which increases your heart rate and breathing and heightens your senses. Once the danger is gone, your body returns to normal, but anxious individuals continue to be on alert. According to Dr. Leo Galland, even a mild magnesium deficiency is commonly seen in patients who have functional or neurotic disorders, which may include stress-induced anxiety.
- Hyperacusis Information Site: Comprehensive Site for Hyperacusis Information
- American Journal of Otolaryngol: Oral Magnesium Intake Reduces Permanent Hearing Loss Induced by Noise Exposure
- Foundation for Integrative Medicine: Magnesium, Stress and Neuropsychiatric Disorders
- Journal of the American Academy of Audiology: Magnesium and Hearing
- New York University Langone Medical Center: Magnesium