When you were younger, you probably thought of hearing loss as a consequence of aging. You probably had older adults in your life trying to comprehend words or wearing hearing aids.
But in the same way as 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 the aging process and much more to do with something else.
You need to realize this one thing: It doesn’t make you old just because you acknowledge you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is a Condition That Can Take Place at Any Age
By the age of 12, audiologists can already identify some hearing loss in 13% of cases. You’ll recognize, this isn’t because a 12 year old is “old”. Teenage hearing loss has risen 33% in the past 30 years.
What’s at work here?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already suffer from debilitating hearing loss.
It’s not an aging problem. What you may consider an age-related hearing loss is 100% preventable. And decreasing its progression is well within your power.
Noise exposure is the typical cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
For decades hearing loss was thought to be unavoidable as you get older. But today, science understands more about how to safeguard your hearing and even restore it.
How Hearing Loss is Triggered by Noise
The first step to protecting your hearing is understanding how something as “innocuous” as noise causes hearing loss.
Waves are what sound is composed of. The canal of your ear receives these waves. They go past your eardrum into your inner ear.
In your inner ear are small hair cells that vibrate when sound strikes them. Which hair cells vibrate, and how rapidly or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain then converts this code into sound.
But when the inner ear receives sounds that are too loud, these hair cells move too quickly. This level of sound damages these hairs and they will eventually fail.
when they’re gone, you can’t hear.
Why Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Irreversible
If you cut your hand, the cut heals. But when you impair these little hair cells, they don’t heal, and they never grow back. Over time, as you subject your ears to loud noise, more and more of these hairs die.
As they do, hearing loss worsens.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These Common Noises
Many people are shocked to find out that common activities can result in hearing loss. These things may seem completely harmless:
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Using farm equipment
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- Lawn mowing
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Playing in a band
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
You can continue to do these things. Luckily, you can take protective measures to reduce noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Older
Admitting you have hearing loss, if you already suffer from it, doesn’t have to make you feel old. Actually, you will feel older a lot sooner if you fail to acknowledge your hearing loss because of complications like:
- Strained relationships
- Social Isolation
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Increased Fall Risk
These are all significantly more common in individuals with untreated hearing loss.
Ways You Can Avoid Further Hearing Problems
Learning how to avoid hearing loss is the first step.
- Get a sound meter app on your phone. Find out how loud things really are.
- Know about dangerous volumes. In less than 8 hours, irreversible damage can be the result of volumes above 85dB. 110 dB takes around 15 minutes to trigger lasting hearing loss. Immediate hearing loss takes place at 120dB or higher. 140 to 170 dB is the average volume of a gunshot.
- Recognize that If you’ve ever had trouble hearing for a while after going to a concert, you’ve already generated lasting damage to your hearing. It will become more severe as time passes.
- Wear earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when necessary.
- Follow work hearing protection rules.
- Regulate your exposure time to loud sounds.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a bad idea in any situation.
- Some headphones and earbuds have on-board volume control for a less dangerous listening experience. They have a 90 dB upper limit. Most people would have to listen nearly non-stop all day to trigger irreversible damage.
- Even at lower levels, if you are taking some common medications, have high blood pressure, or have low blood oxygen, you’re hearing might still be in peril. To be safe, do not listen on headphones at above 50%. Car speakers vary.
- If you have a hearing aid, wear it. Not wearing hearing aids when you need them results in brain atrophy. It works the same as the muscles in your body. If you stop using them, it will be hard to begin again.
Get a Hearing Exam
Are you putting things off or in denial? Stop it. Be proactive about reducing further harm by recognizing your circumstance.
Consult With Your Hearing Professional About Solutions For Your Hearing Loss.
Hearing impairment has no “natural cure”. If hearing loss is extreme, it may be time to invest in a hearing aid.
Compare The Cost of Getting Hearing Aids to The Advantages
Lots of individuals are either in denial about hearing loss, or they choose to “just deal with”. They think hearing aids make them look old. Or they are concerned that they won’t be able to afford them.
But when they recognize that hearing loss will worsen faster and can cause many relationship and health challenges, it’s easy to recognize that the pros well surpass the cons.
Talk to a hearing care specialist right away about getting a hearing test. And if hearing aids are advised, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Todays hearing aids are sophisticated and state-of-the-art pieces of modern technology.