Growing up into adulthood, you likely began to associate hearing loss with aging. You likely had older adults around you trying to understand words or wearing hearing aids.
When you’re young, getting old seems so far away but as time goes by you start to recognize 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 admit you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is a Condition That Can Occur at Any Age
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already detect hearing loss by age 12. You’ll recognize, this isn’t because 12-year-olds are “old”. Teen hearing loss has increased 33% in the last 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.
Aging isn’t the problem. What you probably consider an age-related hearing loss is 100% avoidable. And you have the power to dramatically reduce its progression.
Noise exposure is the typical cause of age associated or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for many years, assumed to be an inescapable 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 learning how something as “harmless” as noise results in hearing loss.
Sound is made up of waves. These waves travel into your ear canal. They go past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Here, little hair cells in your inner ear vibrate. The intensity and speed of these vibrations then encode a mental signal. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But when the inner ear is exposed to sounds that are too loud, these hair cells vibrate too fast. This level of sound damages these hairs and they will eventually die.
when they’re gone, you can’t hear.
Why Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Permanent
If you cut your hand, the wound heals. But when you impair these little hair cells, they don’t heal, and they cannot grow back. Over time, as you expose your ears to loud noise, more and more of these hairs perish.
As they do, hearing loss worsens.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Most people don’t know that hearing loss can be caused by every day noises. You may not think twice about:
- Using farm equipment
- Lawn mowing
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- attending a concert/play/movies
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Cranking up the car stereo
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- Playing in a band
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
You can keep doing these things. Thankfully, you can take protective steps to minimize noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Make Sure You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
Acknowledging that you have hearing loss, if you’re already dealing with 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:
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
- Increased Fall Risk
- Strained relationships
These are all substantially more prevalent in those with neglected hearing loss.
Ways You Can Avoid Additional Hearing Damage
Get started by understanding how to avoid hearing loss.
- In order to figure out how loud things really are, download a sound meter app.
- Determine when volumes get harmful. Above 85 dB (decibels) can result in permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. Permanent hearing loss, at 110 dB, takes place in about 15 minutes. 120 dB and above results in immediate hearing loss. A gunshot is between 140 to 170 dB.
- Understand that you’ve already triggered irreversible hearing damage each time you’ve had a difficult time hearing right after going to a concert. The more often it happens, the worse it will become.
- When it’s needed, wear earplugs or earmuffs.
- When it comes to hearing protection, follow any guidelines that pertain to your circumstance.
- If you have to be exposed to loud noises, restrict your exposure time.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a bad idea in any situation.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have integrated volume control. They have a 90 dB upper limit. At that volume, even constant, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for the majority of individuals.
- Even at lower volumes, if you are taking some common medications, have high blood pressure, or have low blood oxygen, you’re hearing could still be in danger. To be safe, never listen on headphones at over 50%. Car speakers will vary and a volume meter app can help but when it comes to headphones, no louder than 50% is best policy.
- Wear your hearing aid. Not wearing hearing aids when you need them results in brain atrophy. It works the same as the muscles in your body. If you let them go, it will be tough to get them back.
Have a Hearing Test
Are you in denial or simply putting things off? Stop it. You need to accept your hearing loss so that you will be proactive to reduce further harm.
Consult With Your Hearing Professional About Solutions For Your Hearing Loss.
Hearing loss does not have any “natural cure”. If hearing loss is severe, it could be time to get a hearing aid.
Do a Cost to Benefit Analysis of Investing in Hearing Aids
Many individuals 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 have hearing aids. Or they think they cost too much.
But when they recognize that hearing loss will get worse faster and can cause numerous relationship and health challenges, it’s easy to see that the pros well surpass the cons.
Consult a hearing care expert right away about getting a hearing test. And if hearing aids are suggested, don’t be concerned about “feeling old”. Hearing aids at present are a lot sleeker and more sophisticated than you may believe!