Growing up into adulthood, you probably started to associate hearing loss with getting old. Older adults in your life were probably wearing hearing aids or having a difficult time hearing.
In your youth, getting old seems so distant but as time passes you start to recognize that hearing loss is about much more than aging.
This is the one thing you should know: Admitting that you have hearing loss doesn’t mean that you’re old.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Issue”
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already notice hearing loss by age 12. You’ll recognize, this isn’t because a 12 year old is “old”. Teenage hearing loss has risen 33% in the last 30 years.
What’s happening here?
Debilitating hearing loss has already set in for 2% of individuals between the ages of 45 and 55 and 8% of people between the ages of 55 and 64.
It’s not an aging problem. What you may think of as age-related hearing loss is 100% preventable. And you have the power to significantly decrease 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 these days, science knows more about how to safeguard your hearing and even restore it.
How Noise Causes Hearing Loss
Step one to safeguarding your hearing is understanding how something as “innocuous” as noise results in hearing loss.
Sound is composed of waves. Your ear canal receives these waves. They go past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Here, small hair cells in your inner ear vibrate. The speed and intensity of these vibrations will then encode a neurological signal. Your brain can translate this code into words, running water, a car horn, a cry or whatever else you may hear.
But when the inner ear is exposed to sounds that are too intense, these hair cells move too rapidly. This level of sound destroys these hairs and they will eventually stop working.
When these hairs die 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 heal or grow back. Over time, as you subject your ears to loud sounds, more and more of these hairs perish.
Hearing loss gets worse as they do.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Many people are surprised to find out that daily activities can lead to hearing loss. These things probably seem completely harmless:
- Playing in a band
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- attending a movie/play/concert
- Mowing the lawn
- Using farm equipment
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
You don’t need to quit these things. Luckily, you can reduce noise induced hearing loss by taking some safety measures.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Older
Admitting you have hearing loss, if you’re already dealing with it, doesn’t have to make you feel old. As a matter of fact, you will feel older a lot sooner if you fail to recognize your hearing loss because of complications like:
- Increased Fall Risk
- Strained relationships
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
These are all considerably more prevalent in those with neglected hearing loss.
Reduce Further Hearing Injury
Start by learning how to avoid hearing loss.
- So that you can figure out how loud things really are, download a sound meter app.
- Learn about hazardous levels. Above 85 dB (decibels) can cause irreversible hearing loss in 8 hours. Permanent hearing loss, at 110 dB, happens in about 15 minutes. Instant hearing loss takes place at 120dB or higher. 140 to 170 dB is the average volume of a gunshot.
- Recognize that If you’ve ever had difficulty hearing for a while after a concert, you’ve already induced permanent harm to your hearing. It will become more obvious as time passes.
- Use earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when necessary.
- When dealing with hearing protection, adhere to any guidelines that apply to your situation.
- Limit your exposure time to loud sounds.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a poor idea in any situation.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have integrated volume control. They never go over 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 vulnerable at lower levels. To be safe, you should never listen on headphones at over 50%. Car speakers will fluctuate and a volume meter app will help but regarding headphones, 50% or less is best policy.
- If you have a hearing aid, use it. Not using hearing aids when you need them results in brain atrophy. It’s similar to your leg muscles. If you stop making use of them, it will be hard to begin again.
Get a Hearing Examination
Are you in denial or just procrastinating? Don’t do it. Be active about reducing further harm by acknowledging your situation.
Consult With Your Hearing Professional About Solutions For Your Hearing.
Hearing impairment has no “natural cure”. If hearing loss is severe, it may be time to invest in a hearing aid.
Do a Comparison of The Cost of Buying Hearing Aids to The Benefits
Lots of people are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they choose to “tough it out”. 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 comprehend that hearing loss will worsen faster and can cause many relationship and health challenges, it’s easy to see that the pros well outweigh the cons.
Schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional. And you don’t have to be concerned that you look old if you wind up needing hearing aids. Modern hearing aids are sophisticated and state-of-the-art pieces of modern technology.