Health Sense(s)

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The five senses (sight, smell, hearing, taste, and touch) are how we experience the world. We rely on them for everything, from the most basic to the most profound of range of the human experience.


On this theme, political theorist Hannah Arendt is quoted as saying:


“Nothing we use or hear or touch can be expressed in words that equal what is given by the senses.”


Given that we have such a reliance on our senses, it makes sense (if you’ll excuse the pun!) to take good care of them. The majority of the health advice that you will see and hear is based on the physical health of the body; fitness, weight loss, doing what you can to keep yourself free from disease. It’s all valid and worth knowing, but what about fine tuning and preserving the aspects we rely on most of all – the five senses?


Seeing Is Believing: Focusing on the Eyes

Health Sense(s)

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Sight is a complex area of human biology, a field in which there are constant developments and changes.


For some of us, we go through life with vision problems – we are born with them, in fact. Myopia is the most common; the inability to focus on objects at a distance. There are also age-related eye conditions to be aware of, such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, and cataracts. You can’t necessarily prevent these things, but you can give your eyes a helping hand:


  1. Don’t read text in low light.


  1. Don’t squint. If you feel the need to squint, you probably need to see an optician and either get for the first time, or alter, a prescription for vision correction.


  1. Dry eyes don’t have to be tolerated. Use eye drops (preferably preservative-free) if your eyes feel gritty after a long day.


The Sound of Change: ‘Ear ‘Ear

Health Sense(s)

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The need for effective hearing care is often seen as only important to those over a certain age, but it’s something we should all be aware of. Particularly as a parent, where the threat of ear infections is ever-present for our kids.


  1. Don’t use Q-tips inside your ears. No matter how good it feels, just don’t do it! Losing the edge of the cotton inside the ear canal is almost impossible to retrieve without medical intervention and can lead to horrible infections.


  1. Use ear plugs while swimming – particularly for children. This can help prevent otitis externa (also known as “swimmer’s ear”), a common and extremely painful infection.


  1. Don’t listen to music at loud volumes for sustained periods of time.


The Smell of Success: Noseying Around The Nose

Health Sense(s)

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Our sense of smell is largely subjective. Some can detect the fragrance of a perfume from across the room, while others would need to be directly sniffing the bottle to get the same effect.


Given how important a sense of smell is to the sense of taste, it’s a good idea to keep things smelling of roses.


  1. Use a humidifier. Nothing will impair your sense of smell quicker than dry air, so use a humidifier – especially during winter.


  1. If you have allergies or post-nasal drip, then nasal irrigation can provide long-lasting relief and improve your sense of smell.


  1. Don’t sniff! Blow your nose instead – it’s better for your sinuses.


Touchy Feeling: Your Hands On The World

Health Sense(s)

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Our sense of touch is largely linked to vision, according to studies. If you wish to get a better feel for things, then you have a few options.


  1. Try using a blindfold for everyday tasks. It will increase your perception of what you feel, rather than your brain defaulting to visual feedback.


  1. Use an exfoliator to remove dead skin cells on your hands, increasing the nerve receptors’ chance of communicating information.


  1. Encourage children to learn to trust their sense of touch with blocks of shapes. Ask them to identify the shape just from how it feels, rather than what they see.


Taste The Difference: Your Palette, Your Rules

Health Sense(s)

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Did you know “food taster” is an actual job? People who have been identified as having a higher-than-average number of taste receptors on their tongue make a living from tasting food.


While you might not be at that stage, you can improve your palette with a few simple steps.


  1. Pay attention to what’s in your mouth. Close your eyes if it helps; sample the food with your tongue, rather than just chewing down instantly.
  2. Learn to identify individual spices. This takes practice but will help you taste the fullness of dishes in future.
  3. Brush your tongue. Keep those taste receptors active and include tongue brushing as part of your oral routine.


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