When you were younger, you most likely thought of hearing loss as a result of getting old. You likely had older adults in your life struggling to comprehend words or wearing hearing aids.
But in the same way as 30 or 60 only seemed old to you until it fast approached, as you become more aware about hearing loss, you find it has less to do with aging and much more to do with something else.
This is the one thing you should know: Acknowledging that you have hearing loss doesn’t mean that you’re old.
Hearing Loss is a Condition That Can Happen at Any Age
By the age of 12, audiologists can already identify some hearing loss in 13% of cases. Obviously, your not “old” when you’re 12. Teenage hearing loss has increased 33% in the past 30 years.
What’s happening here?
Debilitating hearing loss has already developed for 2% of individuals between 45 and 55 and 8% of people between the ages of 55 and 64.
Aging isn’t the problem. You can 100% prevent what is normally considered “age related hearing loss”. And reducing its progression is well within your power.
Age-associated hearing loss, medically known as sensorineural hearing loss, is most frequently caused by noise.
For generations hearing loss was assumed to be inescapable as you get older. But protecting and even restoring your hearing is well within the scope of modern science.
How Noise Leads to Hearing Loss
The first step to protecting your hearing is understanding how something as “innocuous” as noise results in hearing loss.
Waves are what sound is made of. The canal of your ear receives these waves. They arrive at your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
Here, little hair cells in your inner ear vibrate. Which hair cells oscillate, and how rapidly or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But these hairs can move with too much force when the inner ear gets sound that is too loud. This level of sound destroys these hairs and they will eventually stop working.
when they’re gone, you won’t be able to hear.
Why Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Permanent
If you cut your hand, the wound heals. But these tiny hair cells don’t heal or grow back. The more often you’re exposed to loud noise, the more tiny hair cells fail.
As they do, hearing loss worsens.
every day Noises That Cause Hearing Damage
Most people don’t know that hearing loss can be caused by noise we hear every day. These things probably seem completely harmless:
- attending a movie/play/concert
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Using farm equipment
- Wearing earbuds/head phones
- Lawn mowing
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Cranking up the car stereo
- Being a musician
You don’t have to give up these activities. Luckily, you can lessen noise induced hearing loss by taking some preventative measures.
How to Stop Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Older
If you’re currently suffering from hearing loss, admitting it doesn’t need to make you feel older. As a matter of fact, you will feel older a lot sooner if you fail to acknowledge your hearing loss because of complications like:
- Strained relationships
- Social Isolation
- Increased Fall Risk
- More frequent trips to the ER
These are all significantly more common in individuals with untreated hearing loss.
Ways You Can Prevent Additional Hearing Problems
Learning how to prevent hearing loss is the first step.
- In order to find out how loud things really are, get a sound meter app.
- Find out when volumes get dangerous. In less than 8 hours, irreversible hearing loss can be the result of volumes over 85dB. 110 dB takes about 15 minutes to cause irreversible hearing loss. 120 dB and above brings about instant hearing loss. 140 to 170 dB is the average level of a gunshot.
- Understand that you’ve already caused permanent hearing damage each time you’ve had a hard time hearing right after a concert. The more often it happens, the worse it gets.
- When it’s necessary, use earmuffs and/or earplugs
- Respect work hearing protection safeguards.
- Reduce your exposure time to loud sounds.
- Refrain from standing close to loudspeakers or cranking up speakers 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.
- Some medications, low blood oxygen, and even high blood pressure can make you more susceptible at lower levels. To be safe, never listen on headphones at above 50%. Car speakers vary.
- If you have a hearing aid, wear it. The brain will begin to atrophy if you don’t use your hearing aid when you need it. It’s similar to your leg muscles. If you stop using them, it will be difficult to start again.
Schedule an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you in denial or just procrastinating? Stop it. Be active about reducing further damage by recognizing your situation.
Consult Your Hearing Specialist About Solutions For Your Hearing Loss.
Hearing impairment has no “natural cure”. If hearing loss is severe, it may be time to get a hearing aid.
Do a Cost to Benefit Comparison of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of people who do acknowledge their hearing loss just choose to cope with it. They believe that hearing aids make them seem old. Or they assume they cost too much.
But when they comprehend that hearing loss will worsen faster and can cause many health and relationship complications, it’s easy to recognize that the pros well surpass the cons.
Talk to a hearing care expert today about having a hearing test. And you don’t have to be concerned that you look old if you wind up needing hearing aids. Hearing aids nowadays are much sleeker and more advanced than you may believe!