As you got older, you probably started to connect hearing loss with getting old. Older adults around you were probably wearing hearing aids or struggling to hear.
When you’re young, getting old seems so far away but as time passes you begin to realize that hearing loss is about a lot more than aging.
You need to realize this one thing: It doesn’t mean that you’re old just because you acknowledge you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Issue”
By the age of 12, audiologists can already detect some hearing loss in 13% of cases. You’ll recognize, this isn’t because 12-year-olds are “old”. Teenage hearing loss has increased 33% in the last 30 years.
What’s the reason for this?
Debilitating hearing loss has already developed for 2% of people between the ages of 45 and 55 and 8% of people between 55 and 64.
It’s not an aging problem. You can 100% prevent what is normally considered “age related hearing loss”. And you have the power to significantly minimize its advancement.
Noise exposure is the typical cause of age associated or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for decades, assumed to be an unavoidable part of aging. But nowadays, science understands more about how to protect your hearing and even repair it.
How Noise Causes Hearing Loss
Recognizing how noise causes hearing loss is step one in protecting hearing.
Sound is made up of waves. The canal of your ear receives these waves. They move down past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Here, tiny hair cells in your inner ear oscillate. The speed and intensity of these vibrations then encode a mental signal. Your brain can convert this code into words, rushing water, a car horn, a cry or whatever else you may hear.
But these hairs can move with too much intensity when the inner ear gets sound that is too loud. This level of sound destroys these hairs and they will eventually die.
When these hairs are gone you won’t be able to hear.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Irreversible, Here’s Why
If you cut your hand, the wound heals. But these tiny hair cells won’t heal or grow back. The more often you’re exposed to loud sounds, the more little hair cells die.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These Common Noises
Many people are surprised to discover that daily activities can result in hearing loss. You might not think twice about:
- Using head phones/earbuds
- Going to a concert/play/movies
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Playing in a band
- Running farm equipment
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Lawn mowing
You can continue to do these things. Luckily, you can decrease noise induced hearing loss by taking some protective measures.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Older
Acknowledging that you have hearing loss, if you’re already dealing with it, doesn’t need to make you feel old. The truth is, failing to acknowledge it can doom you to faster advancement and complications that “will” make you feel much older in only a few years like:
- Social Isolation
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Increased Fall Risk
- Strained relationships
For individuals with neglected hearing loss these are substantially more common.
Stop Further Hearing Damage
Begin by learning how to prevent hearing loss.
- So that you can find out how loud things actually are, download a sound meter app.
- Find out when volumes get dangerous. Above 85 dB (decibels) can result in irreversible hearing loss in 8 hours. 110 dB takes about 15 minutes to cause irreversible hearing loss. Immediate hearing loss occurs at 120dB or higher. 140 to 170 dB is the average level of a gunshot.
- Realize that you’ve already caused permanent hearing damage every time you’ve had a difficult time hearing right after a concert. The more often it happens, the worse it will become.
- When it’s required, wear earplugs or earmuffs.
- When dealing with hearing protection, follow any rules that pertain to your situation.
- If you have to be exposed to loud noises, regulate the exposure time.
- Refrain from standing close to loudspeakers or turning speakers up at home.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have built in volume control. They never go above 90 dB. Most people would have to listen almost continuously all day to trigger permanent damage.
- High blood pressure, low blood oxygen, and some medications can make you more vulnerable at lower volumes. To be safe, never listen on headphones at over 50%. Car speakers will vary and a volume meter app will help but when it comes to headphones, no louder than 50% is best policy.
- If you have a hearing aid, use it. The brain will start to atrophy if you don’t wear your hearing aid when you need it. It works the same way as the muscles in your body. If you let them go, it will be difficult to get them back.
Schedule an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you in denial or just procrastinating? Don’t do it. Be proactive about reducing further damage by acknowledging your circumstance.
Talk to Your Hearing Specialist About Hearing Solutions
Hearing loss has no “natural cure”. It might be time to invest in a hearing aid if your hearing loss is extreme.
Do a Comparison of The Cost of Investing in Hearing Aids to The Benefits
Many individuals are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they choose to “just deal with”. They don’t want people to think they are old because they have hearing aids. Or they are concerned that they won’t be able to afford them.
It’s easy to see, however, that when the harmful effect on relationships and health will cost more in the long run.
Speak with a hearing care specialist right away about having a hearing exam. And you don’t have to be concerned that you appear old if you end up needing hearing aids. Present day hearing aids are sophisticated and state-of-the-art pieces of modern technology.