As you got older, 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.
When you’re young, getting old seems so far away but as time passes you start to realize that hearing loss is about a lot more than aging.
This is the one thing you should understand: It doesn’t make you old just because you acknowledge you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Issue”
By the age of 12, audiologists can already detect some hearing loss in 13% of cases. Needless to say, you aren’t “old” when you’re 12. In the last 30 years, hearing loss among teenagers has risen by 33 %.
What’s happening here?
Disabling hearing loss has already developed for 2% of individuals between 45 and 55 and 8% of people between 55 and 64.
It’s not an aging issue. What you may consider an age-related hearing loss is 100% avoidable. And you have the power to dramatically reduce its progression.
Noise exposure is the typical cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
For generations hearing loss was assumed to be unavoidable as you age. But protecting and even repairing your hearing is well within the scope of modern science.
How Noise Leads to Hearing Loss
Step one to protecting your hearing is understanding how something as “harmless” as noise results in hearing loss.
Waves are what sound is composed of. These waves go into your ear canal. They reach your inner ear after going past your eardrum.
Inside your inner ear are tiny hair cells that vibrate when sound impacts them. What hair cells oscillate, and how fast or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain is able to convert this code into words, rushing water, a car horn, a cry or whatever else you might hear.
But these hairs can oscillate with too much intensity 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 die you won’t be able to hear.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Permanent, Here’s Why
Wounds such as cuts or broken bones will heal. But when you impair these little hair cells, they cannot heal, and they never grow back. Over time, as you subject your ears to loud noise, more and more of these hairs perish.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
every day Noises That Cause Hearing Damage
Most people don’t recognize that hearing loss can be caused by noise we hear every day. These things might seem perfectly harmless:
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Using head phones/earbuds
- Playing in a band
- Mowing the lawn
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Going to a concert/play/movies
- Using farm equipment
You can keep doing these things. Fortunately, you can take protective actions to minimize noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Stop Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Old
Admitting you have hearing loss, if you’re already dealing with it, doesn’t need to make you feel old. Actually, you will feel older a lot sooner if you fail to recognize your hearing loss because of complications like:
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Increased Fall Risk
- Strained relationships
- Social Isolation
For individuals with neglected hearing loss these are substantially more prevalent.
Prevent Further Hearing Injury
Learning how to avoid hearing loss is the first step.
- In order to figure out how loud things really are, get a sound meter app.
- Know about hazardous volumes. Over 85 dB (decibels) can result in irreversible hearing loss in 8 hours. 110 dB takes around 15 minutes to trigger irreversible hearing loss. Instant hearing loss occurs at 120dB or higher. A gunshot is 140 to 170 dB.
- Realize that you’ve already caused irreversible hearing damage each time you’ve had a difficult time hearing right after going to a concert. It will become more severe as time passes.
- When it’s required, wear earplugs or earmuffs.
- Follow work hearing protection safeguards.
- Regulate your exposure time to loud sounds.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a bad idea in any situation.
- Some headphones and earbuds have on-board volume control for a safer listening experience. They never go above 90 decibels. At that volume, even constant, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for the majority of individuals.
- Even at lower volumes, if you are taking some common medications, have high blood pressure, or have low blood oxygen, you’re hearing could still be in peril. To be safe, do not listen on headphones at above 50%. Car speakers will vary and a volume meter app will help but regarding headphones, no louder than 50% is best policy.
- Wear your hearing aid. Not wearing hearing aids when you need them causes the brain to atrophy. It’s a lot like your leg muscles. If you stop utilizing them, it will be hard to start again.
Get a Hearing Test
Are you putting things off or in denial? Don’t do it. Be proactive about reducing further damage by acknowledging your situation.
Consult Your Hearing Specialist About Solutions For Your Hearing.
Hearing impairment has no “natural cure”. It may be time to get a hearing aid if your hearing loss is severe.
Do a Cost-Benefit Analysis of Investing in Hearing Aids
Many individuals are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they choose to “tough it out”. They think 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 health and relationship complications, it’s easy to see that the pros well surpass the cons.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing professional. And if hearing aids are recommended, don’t be concerned about “feeling old”. Present day hearing aids are stylish and advanced pieces of modern technology.