Growing up into adulthood, you probably began to associate hearing loss with aging. Older adults in your life 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 find it has less to do with getting old and much more to do with something else.
You need to realize this one thing: It doesn’t make you old just because you admit you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Problem”
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already detect hearing loss by the age of 12. Obviously, you aren’t “old” when you’re 12. Teenage hearing loss has risen 33% in the past 30 years.
What’s the cause of this?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already suffer from debilitating hearing loss.
Aging isn’t the issue. What you may consider an age-related hearing loss is 100% preventable. And you have the power to significantly minimize its advancement.
Noise exposure is the typical cause of age associated or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for many years, considered to be an inevitable part of aging. But nowadays, science understands more about how to protect your hearing and even restore it.
How Hearing Loss is Triggered by Noise
Understanding how noise results in hearing loss is the first step in safeguarding hearing.
Sound is composed of waves. Your ear canal receives these waves. They arrive at your inner ear after going past your eardrum.
In your inner ear are very small hair cells which vibrate when sound strikes them. The speed and intensity of these vibrations then encode a mental signal. Your brain is able to translate this code into words, running water, a car horn, a cry or anything else you may hear.
But these hairs can move with too much force when the inner ear gets sound that is too loud. This level of sound damages 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 Irreversible
If you cut yourself, the wound heals. But when you impair these tiny hair cells, they don’t heal, and they never grow back. The more often you’re subjected to loud noise, the more tiny hair cells die.
Hearing loss gets worse as they do.
Common Noises That Cause Hearing Damage
Most people don’t recognize that hearing loss can be caused by noise we hear every day. You might not think twice about:
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Running farm equipment
- Being a musician
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Mowing the lawn
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Using head phones/earbuds
You can keep doing these things. Luckily, you can reduce noise induced hearing loss by taking some safety measures.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Old
If you’re already suffering from loss of hearing, acknowledging it doesn’t have to make you feel older. The truth is, failing to acknowledge it can doom you to faster advancement and complications that “will” make you feel much older in just a few years like:
- Increased Fall Risk
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
- Strained relationships
For individuals with neglected hearing loss these are a lot more common.
Stop Further Hearing Injury
Start by knowing how to avoid hearing loss.
- Download a sound meter app on your smartphone. Discover how loud things really are.
- Determine when volumes become dangerous. Above 85 dB (decibels) can result in permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. 110 dB takes about 15 minutes to trigger lasting hearing loss. 120 dB and above will cause instantaneous hearing loss. 140 to 170 dB is the average level of a gunshot.
- Recognize that If you’ve ever had trouble hearing temporarily after going to a concert, you’ve already generated permanent damage to your hearing. The more often it happens, the worse it gets.
- Use earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when appropriate.
- Follow work hearing protection safeguards.
- If you need to be exposed to loud sounds, limit the exposure time.
- Steer clear of standing near loudspeakers or turning speakers up at home.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have integrated volume control. They have a 90 dB limit. At that volume, even constant, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for most individuals.
- Some medications, low blood oxygen, and even high blood pressure can make you more susceptible at lower levels. Always keep your headphones at or below 50%. Car speakers vary.
- If you have a hearing aid, wear it. Not wearing hearing aids when you need them leads to brain atrophy. It’s similar to your leg muscles. If you let them go, it will be difficult to get them back.
Schedule an Appointment to Have a Hearing Exam
Are you in denial or simply procrastinating? Stop it. Be proactive about reducing further harm by recognizing your situation.
Speak with Your Hearing Specialist About Hearing Solutions
There are no “natural cures” for hearing loss. It may be time to get a hearing aid if your hearing loss is severe.
Do a Comparison of The Cost of Buying Hearing Aids to The Benefits
Many individuals are either in denial about hearing loss, or they choose to “tough it out”. They believe that hearing aids make them seem old. Or they assume they cost too much.
But when they realize that hearing loss will get worse faster and can cause many relationship and health complications, it’s easy to see that the pros well outnumber the cons.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing specialist. And if hearing aids are suggested, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Todays hearing aids are sophisticated and state-of-the-art pieces of modern technology.