When you were younger, you probably considered hearing loss a result of aging. You probably had older adults around you struggling to comprehend words or wearing hearing aids.
In your youth, getting old seems so distant but as time goes by you begin to recognize that hearing loss is about much more than aging.
Here is the one thing you should know: 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 notice hearing loss by the age of 12. You’ll agree, this isn’t because 12-year-olds are “old”. In the last 30 years, hearing loss among teenagers has gone up by 33 %.
What’s the cause of this?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already have debilitating hearing loss.
It’s not an aging issue. You can 100% prevent what is normally considered “age related hearing loss”. And you have the power to dramatically decrease its advancement.
Age-related hearing loss, scientifically known as sensorineural hearing loss, is usually caused by noise.
Hearing loss was, for years, considered to be an unavoidable part of aging. But safeguarding and even repairing 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 “harmless” as noise results in hearing loss.
Waves are what sound is composed of. These waves travel into your ear canal. They reach your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
Inside your inner ear are very small hair cells that vibrate when sound strikes them. What hair cells vibrate, and how rapidly or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But when the inner ear receives sounds that are too loud, these hair cells move too quickly. The sound vibrates them to death.
When these hairs die you can no longer hear.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Irreversible, Here’s Why
If you cut yourself, the wound heals. But when you impair these tiny hair cells, they don’t heal, and they cannot regenerate. Over time, as you expose your ears to loud sounds, more and more of these hairs fail.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These Common Noises
Most people don’t recognize that hearing loss can be caused by noise we hear every day. These things might seem perfectly harmless:
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Using farm equipment
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Being a musician
- Lawn mowing
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
You can keep doing these things. Fortunately, you can take proactive steps to limit noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Stop Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Older
Acknowledging that you have hearing loss, if you’re already dealing with it, doesn’t have to make you feel old. As a matter of fact, failing to acknowledge it can doom you to faster development and complications that “will” make you feel much older in just a few years like:
- Strained relationships
- Increased Fall Risk
- Social Isolation
- More frequent trips to the ER
These are all considerably more prevalent in individuals with neglected hearing loss.
Prevent Further Hearing Damage
Learning how to prevent hearing loss is the starting point.
- Download a sound meter app on your phone. Determine how loud things actually are.
- Learn when volumes get dangerous. Above 85 dB (decibels) can result in permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. Lasting hearing loss, at 110 dB, occurs in over 15 minutes. Instant hearing loss takes place at 120dB or higher. A gunshot is 140 to 170 dB.
- Realize that you’ve already triggered permanent hearing damage every time you’ve had a difficult time hearing right after a concert. The more often it occurs, the worse it will become.
- When it’s needed, use earplugs or earmuffs.
- When it comes to hearing protection, follow any rules that apply to your circumstance.
- If you need to be exposed to loud noises, limit the exposure time.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a bad idea in any situation.
- Some headphones and earbuds have on-board volume control for a less dangerous listening experience. They never go above 90 dB. Most people would need to listen nearly non-stop all day to trigger permanent damage.
- Even at lower levels, if you have low blood oxygen, high blood pressure, or are taking some common medication, you’re hearing may still be in danger. To be safe, do not listen on headphones at above 50%. Car speakers vary.
- Wear your hearing aid. The brain will start to atrophy if you don’t use your hearing aid when you need it. It works the same way as the muscles in your body. If you stop using them, it will be hard to start again.
Have a Hearing Test
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Stop it. Be proactive about reducing further harm by acknowledging your circumstance.
Consult Your Hearing Specialist About Solutions For Your Hearing Loss.
Hearing impairment has no “natural cure”. If hearing loss is extreme, it might be time to invest in a hearing aid.
Do a Cost-Benefit Comparison of Investing in Hearing Aids
Many individuals are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they choose to “just deal with”. They think hearing aids make them look old. Or they are worried that they won’t be able to afford them.
It’s easy to see, however, that when the negative effect on health and relationships will cost more over time.
Talk to a hearing care professional right away about getting a hearing test. And you don’t need to be concerned that you look old if you end up needing hearing aids. Modern hearing aids are stylish and state-of-the-art pieces of modern technology.