When you were younger, you most likely considered hearing loss a consequence of getting old. Older adults around you 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 fast approached, as you become more aware about hearing loss, you realize that it has less to do with aging and much more to do with something else.
Here is the one thing you should know: It doesn’t mean that you’re old just because you acknowledge you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Problem”
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already notice hearing loss by age 12. Needless to say, your not “old” when you’re 12. Teen hearing loss has gone up 33% in the past 30 years.
What’s the reason for this?
Disabling hearing loss has already developed for 2% of individuals between 45 and 55 and 8% of people between the ages of 55 and 64.
Aging isn’t the issue. You can 100% avoid what is generally considered “age related hearing loss”. And you have the power to dramatically decrease its development.
Noise exposure is the typical cause of age associated or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for decades, thought to be an inevitable part of aging. 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 recognizing how something as “innocuous” as noise results in hearing loss.
Sound is composed of waves. Your ear canal receives these waves. They move down past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Here, little hair cells in your inner ear oscillate. The speed and intensity of these vibrations then encode a neurological signal. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But when the inner ear receives sounds that are too loud, these hair cells vibrate too quickly. This level of sound damages these hairs and they will eventually die.
When these hairs are gone you won’t be able to hear.
Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Irreversible, Here’s Why
Wounds like cuts or broken bones heal. But these tiny hair cells won’t heal or grow back. The more often you’re subjected to loud noise, the more tiny hair cells fail.
As they do, hearing loss worsens.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These Common Noises
Many people are surprised to find out that common activities can result in hearing loss. These things might seem completely harmless:
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Being a musician
- Going to a concert/play/movies
- Lawn mowing
- Running farm equipment
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
You don’t have to give up these things. Thankfully, you can take protective steps to limit noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Make Sure You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
If you’re already suffering from loss of hearing, admitting it doesn’t need to make you feel old. The truth is, failing to accept it can doom you to faster progression and complications that “will” make you feel a lot older in only a few years like:
- Strained relationships
- Social Isolation
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Increased Fall Risk
These are all significantly more common in people with untreated hearing loss.
Ways You Can Avoid Additional Hearing Problems
Learning how to prevent hearing loss is the initial step.
- Download a sound meter app on your smartphone. Discover how loud things actually are.
- Determine when volumes get harmful. Above 85 dB (decibels) can lead to permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. Lasting hearing loss, at 110 dB, happens in about 15 minutes. 120 dB and over brings about instantaneous hearing loss. A gunshot is between 140 to 170 dB.
- Recognize that If you’ve ever had trouble hearing temporarily after going to a concert, you’ve already generated lasting harm to your hearing. The more often it occurs, the worse it gets.
- Wear earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when necessary.
- When dealing with hearing protection, follow any safeguards that apply to your situation.
- Regulate your exposure time to loud sounds.
- Refrain from standing near loudspeakers or cranking up speakers at home.
- Some headphones and earbuds have built in volume control for a less dangerous listening experience. They have a 90 dB upper limit. Most people would have to listen almost continuously all day to cause permanent damage.
- Even at lower volumes, if you have low blood oxygen, high blood pressure, or are taking some common medication, you’re hearing could still be in peril. To be safe, you should never listen on headphones at over 50%. Car speakers will fluctuate and a volume meter app can help but regarding headphones, no louder than 50% is best policy.
- Use your hearing aid. Not wearing hearing aids when you need them causes the brain to atrophy. It’s similar to your leg muscles. If you stop using them, it will be difficult to start again.
Make an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you in denial or simply putting things off? Don’t do it. You have to acknowledge your hearing loss so that you can take measures to lessen further harm.
Talk to Your Hearing Specialist About Hearing Loss Solutions
Hearing loss does not have any “natural cure”. If hearing loss is extreme, it could be time to invest in a hearing aid.
Do a Comparison of The Cost of Buying Hearing Aids to The Advantages
Many individuals who do acknowledge their hearing loss just choose to deal with it. They think hearing aids make them seem old. Or they think they cost too much.
It’s easy to see, however, that when the adverse effect on health and relationships will cost more over time.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing professional. And you don’t have to worry that you look old if you wind up needing hearing aids. Modern hearing aids are stylish and advanced pieces of modern technology.