When you were younger, you probably thought of hearing loss as a result of aging. You probably had older adults in your life trying to comprehend words or wearing hearing aids.
In your youth, getting old seems so far away but as time goes by you begin to recognize that hearing loss is about a lot more than aging.
This is the one thing you should know: Admitting that you have hearing loss doesn’t make you old.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Issue”
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already see hearing loss by the age of 12. You’ll agree, this isn’t because 12-year-olds are “old”. In the past 30 years, hearing loss among teenagers has risen by 33 %.
What’s the cause of this?
Debilitating hearing loss has already set in for 2% of people between 45 and 55 and 8% of people between 55 and 64.
It’s not an aging problem. You can 100% avoid what is typically thought of as “age related hearing loss”. And limiting its development is well within your power.
Age-associated hearing loss, known medically sensorineural hearing loss, is most commonly caused by noise.
For generations hearing loss was believed to be inescapable as you get older. But nowadays, science knows more about how to safeguard your hearing and even repair it.
How Hearing Loss is Triggered by Noise
Step one to protecting your hearing is learning how something as “harmless” as noise causes hearing loss.
Waves are what sound is composed of. Your ear canal receives these waves. They arrive at your inner ear after going past your eardrum.
Here, small hair cells in your inner ear vibrate. The intensity and speed of these vibrations then encode a neurological signal. Your brain can translate this code into words, running water, a car horn, a cry or anything else you might hear.
But these hairs can vibrate with too much force when the inner ear receives sound that is too loud. This level of sound damages these hairs and they will eventually stop working.
When these hairs die you won’t be able to hear.
Why Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Irreversible
Wounds like cuts or broken bones will heal. But when you damage these little hair cells, they don’t heal, and they never regenerate. The more often you’re exposed to loud noise, the more little hair cells fail.
Hearing loss gets worse as they do.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Many people are shocked to find out that daily activities can cause hearing loss. These things may seem totally harmless:
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Running farm equipment
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Being a musician
- Using earbuds/head phones
- attending a movie/play/concert
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Lawn mowing
You don’t have to give up these things. Luckily, you can take protective actions to reduce noise-induced hearing loss.
How to be Certain That You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
Acknowledging that you have hearing loss, if you already suffer from it, doesn’t need to make you feel old. In fact, failing to accept it can doom you to faster advancement and complications that “will” make you feel a lot older in just a few years like:
- Social Isolation
- Increased Fall Risk
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Strained relationships
These are all substantially more prevalent in individuals with untreated hearing loss.
Ways You Can Prevent Additional Hearing Damage
Understanding how to stop hearing loss is the initial step.
- So that you can find out how loud things really are, download a sound meter app.
- Find out when volumes become hazardous. Over 85 dB (decibels) can lead to permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. Permanent hearing loss, at 110 dB, happens in over 15 minutes. 120 dB and over results in instantaneous hearing loss. 140 to 170 dB is the average volume of a gunshot.
- Understand that you’ve already caused irreversible hearing damage every time you’ve had a difficult time hearing right after a concert. It will become more pronounced over time.
- Wear earplugs and/or sound-dampening earmuffs when appropriate.
- When dealing with hearing protection, follow any rules that pertain to your situation.
- If you need to be exposed to loud sounds, regulate the exposure time.
- Steer clear of standing near loudspeakers or cranking up speakers at home.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have integrated volume control. They never go above 90 dB. Most people would have to listen almost non-stop all day to trigger irreversible damage.
- Even at lower levels, if you have low blood oxygen, high blood pressure, or are taking some common medication, you’re hearing may still be in danger. To be safe, you should never listen on headphones at above 50%. Car speakers vary.
- If you have a hearing aid, use it. Not wearing hearing aids when you require them causes the brain to atrophy. It’s a lot like your leg muscles. If you let them go, it will be difficult to get them back.
Get a Hearing Examination
Are you in denial or just putting things off? Stop it. You need to acknowledge your hearing loss so that you can take measures to reduce further harm.
Speak with Your Hearing Professional About Hearing Loss Solutions
There aren’t any “natural cures” for hearing loss. It may be time to invest in a hearing aid if your hearing loss is extreme.
Do a Cost to Benefit Comparison of Investing in Hearing Aids
Many individuals are either in denial about hearing loss, or they choose to “tough it out”. They think hearing aids make them seem old. Or they think they cost too much.
But when they recognize that hearing loss will worsen faster and can cause numerous health and relationship complications, it’s easy to see that the pros well outnumber the cons.
Schedule a hearing exam with a hearing specialist. And you don’t need to be concerned that you look old if you wind up requiring hearing aids. Present day hearing aids are sophisticated and state-of-the-art pieces of modern technology.