When you were younger, you most likely considered hearing loss a result of aging. Older adults in your life were probably wearing hearing aids or struggling to hear.
But just like 30 or 60 only seemed old to you until it started to catch up to you, as you become more aware about hearing loss, you realize that it has less to do with aging and much more to do with something else.
Here is the one thing you should understand: Admitting that you have hearing loss doesn’t make you old.
Hearing Loss is an Ailment That Can Occur at Any Age
By 12 years old, audiologists can already identify some hearing loss in 13% of cases. Clearly, you aren’t “old” when you’re 12. In the last 30 years, hearing loss in teenagers has risen by 33 %.
What’s at work here?
Debilitating hearing loss has already developed for 2% of individuals between the ages of 45 and 55 and 8% of people between 55 and 64.
Aging isn’t the problem. You can 100% prevent what is typically thought of as “age related hearing loss”. And you have the power to significantly minimize its progression.
Noise exposure is the most common cause of age associated or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
For generations hearing loss was believed to be unavoidable as you get older. But these days, science knows more about how to protect your hearing and even repair it.
How Noise Causes Hearing Loss
Recognizing how noise results in hearing loss is the first step in protecting hearing.
Waves are what sound is composed of. These waves travel into your ear canal. They go down past your eardrum into your inner ear.
In your inner ear are very small hair cells that oscillate when sound impacts them. The intensity and speed of these vibrations then encode a neurological signal. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But when the inner ear is exposed to sounds that are too intense, these hair cells move too quickly. The sound shakes them to death.
When these hairs die you can no longer hear.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Irreversible, Here’s Why
Wounds like cuts or broken bones will heal. But when you damage these tiny hair cells, they cannot heal, and they cannot regenerate. The more often you’re exposed to loud sounds, the more little hair cells fail.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
every day Noises That Cause Hearing Damage
Most people don’t know that hearing loss can be caused by every day noises. You may not think twice about:
- attending a concert/play/movies
- Turning up the car stereo
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Using farm equipment
- Being a musician
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Using head phones/earbuds
- Lawn mowing
You can keep doing these things. Thankfully, you can take protective measures to minimize noise-induced hearing loss.
How to be Certain That You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
Acknowledging that you have hearing loss, if you already suffer from it, doesn’t need to make you feel old. Actually, you will feel older much sooner if you fail to acknowledge your hearing loss because of complications like:
- Increased Fall Risk
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
- Strained relationships
These are all substantially more prevalent in those with neglected hearing loss.
Stop Further Hearing Injury
Learning how to prevent hearing loss is the initial step.
- Get a sound meter app on your smartphone. Learn how loud things actually are.
- Learn when volumes become hazardous. Above 85 dB (decibels) can cause permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. Permanent hearing loss, at 110 dB, happens in over 15 minutes. Immediate hearing loss happens at 120dB or higher. 140 to 170 dB is the average volume of a gunshot.
- Realize that you’ve already caused irreversible hearing damage every time you’ve had a difficult time hearing right after a concert. The more often it happens, the worse it gets.
- Wear earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when necessary.
- When it comes to hearing protection, implement any rules that pertain to your situation.
- If you need to be exposed to loud noises, limit the exposure time.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a bad idea in any situation.
- Some headphones and earbuds have built in volume control for a less dangerous listening experience. They have a 90 dB upper limit. Most people would need to listen almost continuously all day to cause irreversible damage.
- Some medications, low blood oxygen, and even high blood pressure can make you more vulnerable at lower levels. Always keep your headphones at 50% or less. Car speakers vary.
- If you have a hearing aid, use it. Not wearing hearing aids when you require them causes the brain to atrophy. It works the same way as your muscles. If you stop making use of them, it will be difficult to start again.
Get a Hearing Test
Are you in denial or just putting things off? Don’t do it. Be proactive about reducing further damage by acknowledging your situation.
Consult With Your Hearing Specialist About Solutions For Your Hearing.
Hearing loss has no “natural cure”. It might be time to invest in a hearing aid if your hearing loss is extreme.
Compare The Cost of Getting Hearing Aids to The Benefits
Lots of people are either in denial about hearing loss, or they choose to “tough it out”. They don’t want people to think they look old because they wear hearing aids. Or they are afraid that they won’t be able to afford them.
But when they recognize that hearing loss will get worse faster and can cause numerous health and relationship challenges, it’s easy to see that the pros well outweigh the cons.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing professional. And you don’t need to be concerned that you look old if you wind up needing hearing aids. Todays hearing aids are stylish and advanced pieces of modern technology.