Monday, March 18, 2019

Be Sensible: Looking After Your Five Senses

Humans have five senses: sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste. As we get older, all these senses can naturally deteriorate, however certain activities can increase this deterioration process and cause premature damage. Here are several ways to protect your five senses and keep them sharper longer.


There are lots of ways in which we can lose our sense of sight. Many people develop presbyopia (also known as long-sightedness) as they get older, whilst short-sightedness can develop at any age (some people even experience both). There are then more serious conditions to look out for such as cataracts which can cause cloudy vision and blotches to appear – such conditions require more rapid intervention.

Of all the causes of sight damage, exposure to intensely bright light is the most common. Wearing shades when out in the sun and wearing eye protection when performing tasks such as welding can prevent this. Make sure that the tint is sufficient enough that you’re not having to squint (squinting means eye strain - which means sight damage!).

Eye strain as the result of not enough light can also cause long-term damage. When reading or using a computer at night, it’s important to have adequate lighting in the room so that you can view the object in front of you without squinting.

Not wearing prescription lenses when required can also lead to eye strain, damaging the eyes further. If you need glasses or contact lenses, make sure that you’re wearing these when you’re supposed to. You should also try to book regular eye tests, so that you know you’re always wearing the right prescription.

Certain foods have been shown to be great for our eye health. These tend to foods containing high doses of vitamins and omega-3 such as leafy greens, nuts, fish and carrots (whilst carrots may not help you see in the dark, they are very good for the eyes!).


Our sense of hearing is largely damaged by prolonged exposure to loud noise. Working in a noisy work environment such as a construction site or airport can particularly put you at risk – in such environments, you should always wear ear protection. Other sources of loud noise exposure to be careful of include listening to music loudly on headphones or regularly using power tools at home.

It’s also possible to damage our sense of hearing by sticking objects into our ears. Many people use cotton buds when trying to remove earwax and these can often cause damage by pushing wax further into our ears. You’re best cleaning your ears out with water rather than sticking anything in your ears.

If you’ve noticed signs of hearing damage, you should consider wearing a hearing aid as this could prevent further damage. You should make sure that your hearing aid is in full working order and is not whistling or creating static - the likes of this hearing aid troubleshooting guide can help you to fix these problems. Talking to a hearing aid specialist could also be useful if you think you are experiencing hearing problems.


A loss of touch is often the result of nerve ending damage. Injuries such as burns can often cause this – by taking precautions such as wearing oven gloves when handling hot food you can prevent this.

A number of diseases may also lead to numbing of this sense in certain parts of the body such as diabetes and peripheral neuropathy. If you’re starting to experience random tingling (a pins and needles feeling) in your arms and legs it could be the start of this symptom and you should see a doctor as soon as possible.

Smell and taste

Smell and taste are closely linked senses. Loss of these senses can occur from activities such as smoking and heavy drinking. By cutting down on these bad habits you could help to preserve your sense of smell and taste.

Certain conditions can cause a lack of smell and taste including polyps and oral cancer. If you start to experience a rapid loss of these senses and you can’t identify the cause (i.e. it’s not just a cold), it could be worth seeing a doctor to get this checked.  

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