Growing up into adulthood, you probably began 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 far away but as time passes you start to recognize that hearing loss is about far more than aging.
Here is the one thing you should know: It doesn’t make you old just because you admit you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Issue”
By the age of 12, audiologists can already identify some hearing loss in 13% of cases. Clearly, you aren’t “old” when you’re 12. Teenage hearing loss has gone up 33% in the last 30 years.
What’s at work here?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already have disabling hearing loss.
It’s not an aging issue. What you may think of as age-related hearing loss is 100% preventable. And you have the ability to dramatically reduce its progression.
Age-related hearing loss, scientifically known as sensorineural hearing loss, is usually a result of noise.
For decades hearing loss was assumed to be unavoidable as you age. But safeguarding and even restoring your hearing is well within the grasp 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 made of. These waves travel into your ear canal. They arrive at your inner ear after going past your eardrum.
In your inner ear are small hair cells that vibrate when sound hits them. The speed and intensity of these vibrations then encode a mental signal. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But these hairs can vibrate with too much force when the inner ear receives sound that is too loud. This level of sound destroys these hairs and they will eventually die.
When these hairs are gone you can no longer hear.
Why Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Permanent
If you cut yourself, the wound heals. But when you impair these tiny hair cells, they don’t heal, and they never grow back. Over time, as you expose your ears to loud noise, more and more of these hairs fail.
As they do, hearing loss progresses.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Many people are surprised to find out that daily activities can result in hearing loss. You may not think twice about:
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Being a musician
- Using head phones/earbuds
- Mowing the lawn
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Running farm equipment
- Turning the car stereo way up
You can keep on doing these things. Luckily, you can take proactive measures to minimize noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Make Sure You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
Admitting you have hearing loss, if you already suffer from it, doesn’t have to make you feel old. As a matter of fact, you will feel older much sooner if you fail to recognize your hearing loss due to complications like:
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Strained relationships
- Social Isolation
- Increased Fall Risk
These are all considerably more prevalent in those with neglected hearing loss.
Stop Further Hearing Injury
Start by learning how to prevent hearing loss.
- In order to figure out how loud things really are, download a sound meter app.
- Learn when volumes become hazardous. Over 85 dB (decibels) can cause permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. 110 dB takes around 15 minutes to cause permanent hearing loss. Instant hearing loss occurs 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 caused permanent damage to your hearing. The more often it occurs, the worse it will become.
- When it’s required, use earplugs or earmuffs.
- When dealing with hearing protection, follow any guidelines that pertain to your circumstance.
- If you have to be exposed to loud sounds, restrict the exposure time.
- Avoid standing near loudspeakers or cranking up speakers at home.
- Some headphones and earbuds have built in volume control for a safer listening experience. They have a 90 dB upper limit. Most people would have to listen almost non-stop all day to trigger irreversible damage.
- Even at lower volumes, if you are taking some common medications, have high blood pressure, or have low blood oxygen, you’re hearing might still be in danger. Always keep your headphones at 50% or less. 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 as the muscles in your body. If you let them go, it will be difficult to get them back.
Make an Appointment to Have a Hearing Exam
Are you in denial or simply putting things off? Stop it. Be proactive about reducing further damage by acknowledging your circumstance.
Consult Your Hearing Professional About Solutions For Your Hearing Loss.
There are no “natural cures” for hearing impairment. It may be time to get a hearing aid if your hearing loss is extreme.
Do a Cost to Benefit Analysis of Investing in Hearing Aids
Many individuals who do acknowledge their hearing loss just choose to deal with it. They don’t want people to think they look old because they have hearing aids. Or they assume that they cost too much.
It’s easy to see, however, that when the adverse effect on health and relationships will cost more in the long run.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing specialist. And you don’t need to worry that you appear old if you end up requiring hearing aids. Present day hearing aids are stylish and advanced pieces of modern technology.