As you got older, you likely started to connect hearing loss with aging. Older adults in your life were probably wearing hearing aids or having a difficult time hearing.
In your youth, getting old seems so distant but as time goes by you start to recognize that hearing loss is about much more than aging.
You need to realize this one thing: Admitting that you have hearing loss doesn’t make you old.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Problem”
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already detect hearing loss by the age of 12. Needless to say, you aren’t “old” when you’re 12. In the last 30 years, hearing loss in teenagers has increased by 33 %.
What’s the cause of this?
Disabling hearing loss has already developed for 2% of individuals between 45 and 55 and 8% of people between 55 and 64.
Aging isn’t the problem. What you may think of as age-related hearing loss is 100% avoidable. And you have the power to dramatically decrease its advancement.
Noise exposure is the most common cause of age associated or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for years, assumed to be an unavoidable part of aging. But safeguarding and even restoring your hearing is well within the scope of modern science.
How Noise Leads to Hearing Loss
Step one to safeguarding your hearing is understanding how something as “innocuous” as noise causes hearing loss.
Waves are what sound is made of. These waves travel into your ear canal. They move down past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Inside your inner ear are small hair cells which oscillate when sound strikes them. Which hair cells vibrate, and how fast or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain can translate this code into words, running water, a car horn, a cry or whatever else you might hear.
But these hairs can move with too much force when the inner ear receives sound that is too intense. This level of sound destroys these hairs and they will eventually die.
When these hairs are gone you won’t be able to hear.
Why Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Irreversible
Wounds such as cuts or broken bones will heal. But these tiny hair cells don’t grow back or heal. Over time, as you subject your ears to loud noise, more and more of these hairs perish.
Hearing loss gets worse as they do.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These Common Noises
Most people don’t realize that hearing loss can be caused by every day noises. These things probably seem totally harmless:
- Lawn mowing
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Using farm equipment
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- attending a movie/play/concert
- Using earbuds/head phones
- Playing in a band
You don’t need to give up these activities. Luckily, you can lessen noise induced hearing loss by taking some protective measures.
How to be Certain That You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
If you’re already suffering from loss of hearing, acknowledging it doesn’t have to make you feel old. The truth is, failing to acknowledge it can doom you to faster progression and complications that “will” make you feel a lot older in just a few years like:
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Increased Fall Risk
- Strained relationships
- Social Isolation
These are all substantially more prevalent in people with untreated hearing loss.
Stop Further Hearing Injury
Begin by understanding how to prevent hearing loss.
- So that you can find out how loud things actually are, download a sound meter app.
- Determine when volumes become hazardous. In under 8 hours, irreversible hearing loss can be the result of volumes over 85dB. Permanent hearing loss, at 110 dB, occurs in about 15 minutes. Instant hearing loss takes place at 120dB or higher. 140 to 170 dB is the average volume of a gunshot.
- Understand that you’ve already triggered permanent hearing damage each time you’ve had a difficult time hearing right after a concert. It will become more severe over time.
- When it’s required, use earplugs or earmuffs.
- Follow work hearing protection rules.
- Reduce your exposure time to loud sounds.
- 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 never go over 90 dB. Most people would need to listen almost non-stop all day to trigger permanent 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 danger. Always keep your headphones at or below 50%. Car speakers vary.
- Use your hearing aid. Not using hearing aids when you require them results in brain atrophy. It’s similar to your leg muscles. If you stop utilizing them, it will be difficult to start again.
Get a Hearing Exam
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Stop it. You need to acknowledge your hearing loss so that you will be proactive to minimize further damage.
Talk to Your Hearing Specialist About Hearing Loss Solutions
Hearing loss does not have any “natural cure”. It might be time to get a hearing aid if your hearing loss is extreme.
Compare The Cost of Investing in Hearing Aids to The Benefits
Lots of individuals who do recognize their hearing loss just choose to deal with it. They don’t want people to think they look old because they have hearing aids. Or they are afraid that they won’t be able to afford them.
But when they comprehend that hearing loss will get worse faster and can cause many health and relationship complications, it’s easy to recognize that the pros well outnumber the cons.
Speak with a hearing care professional right away about getting a hearing test. And if hearing aids are suggested, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Todays hearing aids are sophisticated and state-of-the-art pieces of modern technology.