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Sensitive Hearing and the

The Links to Magnesium Deficiency

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My younger son and I both have had problems from time to time with sensitivity to noise. In both our cases we believe we have traced the problems to a magnesium deficiency. Many of the other problems we have in our family can also be traced to a lack of this important mineral, so we suspect that a predisposition to need higher than normal amounts of magnesium may run in our family. From my experience, most conventional medical doctors are not aware of the magnesium deficiency - noise sensitivity link, so I put up this web page to make more people aware of the connection. Magnesium deficiency may also be a factor in tinnitus (ringing in the ears), a condition that often co-exists with noise sensitivity.

Magnesium is a vital co-factor in several hundred enzymatic reactions in the human body, so a deficiency of magnesium can result in a wide variety of health problems, as shown in the table below.

Subset of Conditions Linked to Magnesium Deficiency

  • headaches
  • insomnia
  • nystagmus
  • mitral valve prolapse
  • fibromyalgia
  • TMJ
  • muscle twitches
  • muscle cramps
  • restlessness
  • difficulty breathing

In our family, we each tend to have clusters of the types of problems listed in the chart above, but when we eat diets high in magnesium, we are able to keep many of these problems under control.

At home we try to eat a very healthy diet, with many magnesium rich, fruits, beans, grains, and vegetables. This helps to keep the sensitive hearing problem under control for both my son and myself. However, my son tends to develop problems whenever we go on vacation--times when he eats more processed foods and less vegetables. We know he is having trouble when we go to an amusement park or loud movie, and he put his fingers in his ears to block out the pain from the loud noise. When we see this happening, we then head to the nearest Mexican restaurant and load him up on salad and refried beans, two magnesium rich foods. A meal like this will often bring about an immediate improvement.

A web page I highly recommend on magnesium deficiency and other causes of noise sensitivity is at Dr. Guy Berard's website on Auditory Integration Training, Sound Sensitivity: A Summary of Possible Causes. This article is dead on correct as to what triggers sound sensitivity in my family. I wish I had known about all of the information in this article years ago.

Another interesting point to note is that the magnesium deficiency - sensitive hearing link may be true for animals as well as humans. We bought a guinea pig as a pet for our kids last year. We had read that guinea pigs were very sensitive to noise and, indeed, when we first got out little piggie he would shake, squeal or hide whenever there were loud noises in the house.

We thought changing his diet from pet store food to a more natural diet higher in magnesium might help him. So we took him off the guinea pig food from the store and fed him a diet a fresh clover and grass from the backyard as well as a wide assortment of organic fruit and veggies from the local health food store. Our hunch was right. His hearing seems to have become much less sensitive these days. Now he comes out of his little guinea pig house readily even if we are vacuuming or our children have a large, noisy group of friends over to play. Prior to the diet change, he would have hid in his house and not come out for a long time until after the noises went away.

Sensitive Hearing Triggers

There are a number of factors that we've noticed bring on the sensitive hearing and related signs of magnesium deficiency in our family. These are:

  • When we have a lack of vegetables, beans and other whole foods in our diet. As noted above, this has especially happened when we are on vacation and are eating out at restaurants a lot.

  • After being on prescription antibiotics.

  • When we eat foods preserved with either garlic. My son has had bad reactions to salami cured with garlic. Garlic is a natural antibiotic and if you eat enough of it it can kill the beneficial bacteria in your digestive system as well as prescription antibiotics.

  • When we eat a lot of white enriched bread or rice. In the U.S., white bread and rice are often "enriched" with iron and vitamin B6, both of which are magnesium antagonists. Yet, they are not enriched with any magnesium so eating a lot of enriched grain products isn't the best diet for us.

  • From multivitamin supplements or powders, many of which have very little magnesium, yet many magnesium antagonists.

  • Diets high in salt can cause a loss of magnesium.

  • Times we have signs of irritable bowel syndrome, candidiasis or other digestive upset. I think this is because during these times our stomachs lack the right helpful bacteria to create the cofactors necessary for magnesium absorption. The downside of prescription antibiotics and preservatives in food is that they can wipe out the good bacteria along with the bad bacteria.

Alcohol use is another possible cause of magnesium deficiency, leading some experts to suggest that hangovers are actually acute, temporary episodes of a deficiency of this nutrient. Migraine headaches are another condition that has been linked to both magnesium deficiency and sensitive hearing.

Noise Sensitivity Treatments

The treatments that work for us are basically just to:
  • Eat more magnesium rich foods.

  • Take probiotic supplements at times when we've been on antibiotics or have signs of yeast infections.
Update to this site - Spring, 2003: I just had my whole family tested for nutritional deficiencies. My younger son is the only one in our family that currently has problems with sensitive hearing from time to time, and interestingly he was the only one of the four of us that the tests showed had a magnesium deficiency. So the test did confirm what we had suspected regarding his hearing issues being related to a lack of magnesium.


For more information on the diet changes that helped our sensitive hearing, refer to my page on fibromyalgia diet. The same types of diet changes that helped relax our muscles also helped with the noise sensitivity.




Related sections of interest:

Cures for eye floaters

Nystagmus - involuntary movement of the eyes

Dislocated Lenses

Alternative treatments for tinnitus - ringing in the ears

Noise Sensitivity

Clogged Ears - Overlooked Causes

My experience and treatments for the symptoms of vertigo, nausea and cold feet

Stretches For Vertigo


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