Growing up into adulthood, you likely started to associate hearing loss with getting old. Older adults around you were probably wearing hearing aids or having a difficult time hearing.
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 getting old and much more to do with something else.
This is the one thing you should know: It doesn’t mean that you’re old just because you admit you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Issue”
By 12 years old, audiologists can already identify some hearing loss in 13% of cases. You’ll agree, this isn’t because a 12 year old is “old”. In the last 30 years, hearing loss among teenagers has risen by 33 %.
What’s the cause of this?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already suffer from disabling hearing loss.
Aging isn’t the issue. You can 100% avoid what is normally thought of as “age related hearing loss”. And limiting its development is well within your ability.
Noise exposure is the most prevalent cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for decades, considered to be an inevitable part of aging. But these days, science knows more about how to protect 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.
Sound is made up of waves. These waves go into your ear canal. They progress past your eardrum into your inner ear.
In your inner ear are very small hair cells which oscillate when sound hits them. What hair cells oscillate, and how rapidly or frequently they vibrate, becomes a signal in the brain. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But when the inner ear receives sounds that are too loud, these hair cells vibrate too rapidly. This level of sound damages these hairs and they will eventually fail.
when they’re gone, you can’t hear.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Irreversible, Here’s Why
If you cut your hand, the wound heals. But these little hair cells don’t grow back or heal. 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 every day Noises
Many people are surprised to find out that daily activities can result in hearing loss. You might not think twice about:
- Playing in a band
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Lawn mowing
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Cranking up the car stereo
- Using farm equipment
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- attending a concert/play/movies
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
You can continue to do these things. Luckily, you can take protective steps to reduce noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Stop Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Older
If you’re currently suffering from loss of hearing, admitting it doesn’t need to make you feel old. As a matter of fact, you will feel older much sooner if you fail to recognize your hearing loss because of complications like:
- Social Isolation
- Strained relationships
- Increased Fall Risk
- More frequent trips to the ER
For people with neglected hearing loss these are substantially more prevalent.
Prevent Further Hearing Damage
Begin by learning how to prevent hearing loss.
- Get a sound meter app on your mobile device. Discover how loud things actually are.
- Know about dangerous levels. In under 8 hours, permanent damage can be the result of volumes over 85dB. Irreversible hearing loss, at 110 dB, takes place in over 15 minutes. 120 dB and over causes instantaneous hearing loss. A gunshot is between 140 to 170 dB.
- Know that If you’ve ever had trouble hearing temporarily after a concert, you’ve already generated lasting damage to your hearing. The more often it occurs, the worse it will become.
- Wear earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when necessary.
- When dealing with hearing protection, implement any rules that pertain to your situation.
- Regulate your exposure time to loud sounds.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a poor idea in any situation.
- Some headphones and earbuds have on-board volume control for a less dangerous listening experience. They have a 90 dB limit. Most people would need to listen nearly continuously all day to trigger irreversible damage.
- Even at lower volumes, if you have low blood oxygen, high blood pressure, or are taking some common medication, you’re hearing might still be in danger. Always keep your headphones at or below 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.
- Wear your hearing aid. The brain will begin to atrophy if you don’t wear your hearing aid when you require it. It works the same way as your muscles. If you let them go, it will be hard to get them back.
Schedule an Appointment to Have a Hearing Exam
Are you in denial or just procrastinating? Don’t do it. You have to acknowledge your hearing loss so that you can take measures to decrease further harm.
Talk to Your Hearing Professional About Hearing Loss Solutions
There aren’t any “natural cures” for hearing loss. It might be time to invest in a hearing aid if your hearing loss is severe.
Do a Cost to Benefit Comparison of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of people are either in denial about hearing loss, or they choose to “just deal with”. They don’t want people to think they are old because they wear hearing aids. Or they think they cost too much.
It’s easy to recognize, however, that when the harmful effect on relationships and health will cost more over time.
Talk to a hearing care specialist today about getting a hearing exam. And you don’t have to worry that you look old if you wind up requiring hearing aids. Present day hearing aids are stylish and advanced pieces of modern technology.