Many in ancient China believed that ear shape was a powerful way to predict one's future. Long ears were a sign of nobility; thicker ears meant more wealth; and long earlobes signified longevity. Liu Bei, founder of the Eastern Han dynasty, was said to have ears reaching to his shoulders.
These days we can't say how wealthy you'll be based on your ear thickness, but we can predict what will happen to you if your hearing is compromised.
Nearly 40 million adults in the U.S. have less-than-optimal hearing, and 28.8 million of them could benefit from using hearing aids. Unfortunately, fewer than 30 percent have ever used them.
If you're part of that crowd, you are risking both your quality of life and your brain function.
--A study in the Journal of Personality found that unaddressed hearing loss triggers personality changes: You may become more withdrawn and less outgoing. Research shows that a shrinking social base undermines both longevity and happiness.
--A six-year study out of Johns Hopkins found that participants (ages 75-84) with hearing loss had a measurable cognitive decline that was 32 to 41 percent faster than folks without hearing loss.
So if you're cranking up the volume on the TV, asking folks to repeat what they say or just dropping out of conversations you cannot hear, get your hearing tested. It'll improve your health, happiness and cognition. If you need help affording hearing aids, check the Hearing Loss Association of America (www.hearingloss.org). Tip: Less-expensive hearing aids through your smartphone are on the horizon.
Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit www.sharecare.com.
(c) 2017 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.(c) 2017 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.