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.
When you’re young, getting old seems so far away but as time goes by you begin to realize that hearing loss is about much more than aging.
You need to understand this one thing: It doesn’t make you old just because you acknowledge you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Problem”
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already detect hearing loss by age 12. You’ll agree, this isn’t because a 12 year old is “old”. In the last 30 years, hearing loss among teenagers has gone up by 33 %.
What’s the reason for this?
Debilitating hearing loss has already set in for 2% of people between 45 and 55 and 8% of people between the ages of 55 and 64.
It’s not an aging problem. You can 100% avoid what is generally considered “age related hearing loss”. And you have the ability to dramatically minimize its progression.
Noise exposure is the typical cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
For generations hearing loss was believed to be inescapable as you age. But protecting and even repairing your hearing is well within the grasp of modern science.
How Noise Leads to Hearing Loss
Recognizing how noise results in hearing loss is step one in protecting hearing.
Sound is composed of waves. The canal of your ear receives these waves. They arrive at your inner ear after going past your eardrum.
In your inner ear are very small hair cells which oscillate when sound impacts them. The speed and intensity of these vibrations will then encode a mental signal. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But these hairs can oscillate with too much intensity when the inner ear gets sound that is too intense. The sound shakes them to death.
When these hairs are gone you won’t be able to hear.
Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Permanent, Here’s Why
If you cut yourself, the cut heals. But these tiny hair cells won’t grow back or heal. Over time, as you subject your ears to loud noise, more and more of these hairs fail.
As they do, hearing loss progresses.
Common Noises That Damage Hearing
Most people don’t realize that hearing loss can be caused by noise we hear every day. You might not think twice about:
- Turning up the car stereo
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Using farm equipment
- Playing in a band
- Mowing the lawn
- Using head phones/earbuds
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
You can keep on doing these things. Thankfully, you can take protective measures to limit noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Old
Acknowledging that you have hearing loss, if you already suffer from it, doesn’t have to make you feel old. In fact, failing to accept it can doom you to faster development and complications that “will” make you feel a lot older in only a few years like:
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
- Increased Fall Risk
- Strained relationships
For individuals with untreated hearing loss these are substantially more common.
Ways You Can Prevent Further Hearing Problems
Start by knowing how to avoid hearing loss.
- So that you can figure out how loud things really are, get a sound meter app.
- Know about hazardous levels. In under 8 hours, irreversible damage can be the result of volumes over 85dB. 110 dB takes about 15 minutes to cause permanent hearing loss. Instant hearing loss happens at 120dB or higher. A gunshot is 140 to 170 dB.
- Realize that you’ve already triggered permanent hearing damage each time you’ve had a difficult time hearing right after a concert. The more often it occurs, the worse it gets.
- Use earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when necessary.
- When it comes to hearing protection, implement any guidelines that pertain to your situation.
- If you need to be exposed to loud sounds, limit the exposure time.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a poor idea in any setting.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have built in volume control. They never go above 90 decibels. Most people would have to listen almost continuously all day to cause permanent damage.
- Even at lower volumes, if you are taking some common medications, have high blood pressure, or have low blood oxygen, you’re hearing may still be in peril. To be safe, never listen on headphones at above 50%. Car speakers vary.
- Use your hearing aid. The brain will begin to atrophy if you don’t wear your hearing aid when you need it. It works the same way as your muscles. If you let them go, it will be difficult to get them back.
Make an Appointment to Have a Hearing Exam
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Don’t do it. You have to accept your hearing loss so that you will take measures to decrease further harm.
Speak with Your Hearing Specialist About Hearing Loss Solutions
There aren’t any “natural cures” for hearing impairment. If hearing loss is extreme, it could be time to invest in a hearing aid.
Do a Cost to Benefit Comparison of Investing in Hearing Aids
Many individuals who do recognize their hearing loss simply choose to cope with it. They think hearing aids make them look old. Or they are concerned that they won’t be able to afford them.
But when they realize 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.
Talk to a hearing care professional right away about having a hearing test. And if hearing aids are advised, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Modern hearing aids are sophisticated and state-of-the-art pieces of modern technology.