Growing up into adulthood, you likely began to connect hearing loss with aging. You probably had older adults around you trying to understand words or wearing hearing aids.
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 understand: Acknowledging that you have hearing loss doesn’t make you old.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Issue”
By 12 years old, audiologists can already detect some hearing loss in 13% of cases. Clearly, your not “old” when you’re 12. In the last 30 years, hearing loss among teenagers has risen by 33 %.
What’s happening here?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already suffer from debilitating hearing loss.
It’s not an aging problem. You can 100% prevent what is commonly thought of as “age related hearing loss”. And you have the power to significantly minimize its progression.
Age-related hearing loss, known medically sensorineural hearing loss, is typically a result of noise.
For decades hearing loss was believed to be inevitable as you age. But protecting and even restoring your hearing is well within the grasp of modern science.
How Noise Causes Hearing Loss
Understanding how noise causes hearing loss is step one in safeguarding hearing.
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.
Here, little hair cells in your inner ear oscillate. What hair cells oscillate, and how fast or frequently they vibrate, becomes a signal in the brain. Your brain can translate this code into words, rushing water, a car horn, a cry or whatever else you may hear.
But these hairs can oscillate with too much force when the inner ear gets sound that is too loud. The sound vibrates them to death.
When these hairs are gone you can no longer hear.
Why Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Irreversible
If you cut your hand, the cut heals. But these little hair cells won’t heal or grow back. Over time, as you expose your ears to loud noise, more and more of these hairs perish.
As they do, hearing loss worsens.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These Common Noises
Many people are surprised to discover that every day activities can result in hearing loss. These things probably seem perfectly harmless:
- Mowing the lawn
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
- Playing in a band
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- attending a concert/play/movies
- Using farm equipment
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
You can keep doing these things. Luckily, you can lessen noise induced hearing loss by taking some safety measures.
How to Make Sure You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
Acknowledging that you have hearing loss, if you’re already dealing with it, doesn’t have to make you feel old. As a matter of fact, you will feel older a lot sooner if you fail to recognize your hearing loss because of complications like:
- Social Isolation
- Increased Fall Risk
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Strained relationships
These are all substantially more common in individuals with neglected hearing loss.
Reduce Further Hearing Injury
Learning how to avoid hearing loss is the first step.
- So that you can figure out how loud things actually are, download a sound meter app.
- Determine when volumes become dangerous. In less than 8 hours, irreversible damage can be caused by volumes over 85dB. 110 dB takes about 15 minutes to trigger permanent hearing loss. 120 dB and above causes instantaneous hearing loss. A gunshot is 140 to 170 dB.
- 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 obvious over time.
- When it’s needed, use earmuffs and/or earplugs
- When it comes to hearing protection, implement any rules that apply to your circumstance.
- Regulate your exposure time to loud sounds.
- Avoid standing near loudspeakers or turning speakers up at home.
- Some headphones and earbuds have built in volume control for a safer listening experience. They never go above 90 decibels. At that volume, even nonstop, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for the majority of individuals.
- Some medications, low blood oxygen, and even high blood pressure can make you more susceptible at lower volumes. Always keep your headphones at or below 50%. Car speakers vary.
- If you have a hearing aid, wear it. Not wearing hearing aids when you need them results in brain atrophy. It’s similar to your leg muscles. If you stop making use of them, it will be hard to begin again.
Make an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you putting things off or in denial? Don’t do it. You have to accept your hearing loss so that you can take measures to decrease further harm.
Consult With Your Hearing Professional About Solutions For Your Hearing.
There aren’t any “natural cures” for hearing loss. It could be time to invest in a hearing aid if your hearing loss is extreme.
Do a Comparison of The Cost of Buying Hearing Aids to The Advantages
Many people who do acknowledge their hearing loss just decide to deal with it. They don’t want people to think they look old because they have hearing aids. Or they are worried that they won’t be able to afford them.
But when they recognize that hearing loss will worsen faster and can cause numerous relationship and health complications, it’s easy to recognize that the pros well outnumber the cons.
Schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional. And if hearing aids are suggested, don’t be concerned about “feeling old”. Hearing aids today are much sleeker and more sophisticated than you may believe!