Growing up into adulthood, you probably began to associate hearing loss with getting old. You probably had older adults in your life struggling to comprehend words or wearing hearing aids.
When you’re young, 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.
Here 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”
By the age of 12, audiologists can already detect some hearing loss in 13% of cases. Obviously, your not “old” when you’re 12. Teenage hearing loss has increased 33% in the last 30 years.
What’s the cause of this?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already suffer from disabling hearing loss.
It’s not an aging issue. You can 100% avoid what is commonly considered “age related hearing loss”. And decreasing its progression is well within your power.
Noise exposure is the most prevalent cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
For decades hearing loss was thought to be unavoidable as you age. But today, science understands more about how to safeguard your hearing and even repair it.
How Hearing Loss is Triggered by Noise
Learning how noise results in hearing loss is the first step in safeguarding hearing.
Sound is composed of waves. The canal of your ear receives these waves. They reach your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
In your inner ear are tiny hair cells which oscillate when sound strikes them. What hair cells vibrate, and how fast or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain then converts this code into sound.
But when the inner ear receives sounds that are too intense, these hair cells vibrate too quickly. The sound shakes them to death.
Without them, you can’t hear.
Why Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Irreversible
Wounds such as cuts or broken bones heal. But when you impair these tiny hair cells, they don’t heal, and they cannot regenerate. Over time, as you expose your ears to loud noise, more and more of these hairs die.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These Common Noises
Most people don’t recognize that hearing loss can be caused by every day noises. These things probably seem totally harmless:
- Wearing earbuds/head phones
- Mowing the lawn
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Using farm equipment
- Turning the car stereo way up
- attending a concert/play/movies
- Being a musician
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
You can keep doing these things. Thankfully, you can take protective steps to minimize noise-induced hearing loss.
How to be Certain That You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
If you’re currently suffering from hearing loss, admitting it doesn’t need to make you feel old. Actually, you will feel older much sooner if you fail to acknowledge your hearing loss due to complications like:
- Increased Fall Risk
- Strained relationships
- Social Isolation
- More frequent trips to the ER
These are all substantially more common in those with untreated hearing loss.
Ways You Can Avoid Additional Hearing Problems
Recognizing how to prevent hearing loss is the starting point.
- So that you can find 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. Irreversible hearing loss, at 110 dB, takes place in over 15 minutes. Immediate hearing loss occurs at 120dB or higher. A gunshot is 140 to 170 dB.
- Understand that you’ve already triggered permanent hearing damage every time you’ve had a difficult time hearing right after going to 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 safeguards that apply to your circumstance.
- If you have to be exposed to loud noises, restrict the exposure time.
- Avoid standing close to 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 limit. At that level, even nonstop, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for the majority of people.
- Even at lower volumes, if you have low blood oxygen, high blood pressure, or are taking some common medication, you’re hearing might still be in peril. Always keep your headphones at or below 50%. 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 way as the muscles in your body. If you stop making use of them, it will be hard to start again.
Schedule an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you putting things off or in denial? Stop it. You need to accept your hearing loss so that you can be proactive to lessen further damage.
Talk to Your Hearing Specialist About Hearing Solutions
There aren’t any “natural cures” for hearing impairment. It may be time to get a hearing aid if your hearing loss is extreme.
Do a Cost-Benefit Analysis of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of individuals are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they decide to “just deal with”. They think hearing aids make them seem old. Or they are afraid that they won’t be able to afford them.
But when they recognize that hearing loss will get worse faster and can cause numerous relationship and health complications, it’s easy to recognize that the pros well outweigh the cons.
Schedule a hearing exam with a hearing specialist. And you don’t need to worry that you look old if you end up needing hearing aids. Hearing aids nowadays are significantly sleeker and more advanced than you may believe!