Growing up into adulthood, 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.
But just like 30 or 60 only seemed old to you until it fast approached, as you learn more about hearing loss, you realize that it has less to do with getting old and much more to do with something else.
Here is the one thing you should know: It doesn’t make you old just because you admit you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is a Condition That Can Happen at Any Age
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already notice hearing loss by age 12. You’ll agree, this isn’t because 12-year-olds are “old”. Teenage hearing loss has increased 33% in the last 30 years.
What’s happening here?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already have disabling hearing loss.
It’s not an aging problem. What you probably consider an age-related hearing loss is 100% avoidable. And limiting its development is well within your power.
Noise exposure is the typical cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
For decades hearing loss was believed to be inevitable as you age. But protecting and even repairing your hearing is well within the grasp of modern science.
How Hearing Loss is Caused by Noise
Step one to safeguarding your hearing is recognizing how something as “innocuous” as noise causes hearing loss.
Sound is made up of waves. The canal of your ear receives these waves. They progress past your eardrum into your inner ear.
In your inner ear are tiny hair cells which oscillate when sound hits them. The speed and intensity of these vibrations then encode a neurological signal. Your brain then converts this code into sound.
But these hairs can vibrate with too much intensity 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.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Irreversible, Here’s Why
Wounds such as cuts or broken bones heal. But these little hair cells won’t grow back or heal. Over time, as you subject your ears to loud noise, more and more of these hairs perish.
As they do, hearing loss progresses.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These Common Noises
Most people don’t know that hearing loss can be caused by every day noises. You might not think twice about:
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- Playing in a band
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- attending a movie/play/concert
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Turning up the car stereo
- Mowing the lawn
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Using farm equipment
You don’t have to give up these things. Luckily, you can lessen noise induced hearing loss by taking some protective measures.
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 have to make you feel old. Actually, you will feel older much sooner if you fail to recognize your hearing loss due to complications like:
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
- Strained relationships
- Increased Fall Risk
For people with neglected hearing loss these are much more common.
Prevent Further Hearing Damage
Start by learning how to prevent hearing loss.
- Download a sound meter app on your phone. Learn how loud things actually are.
- Learn about dangerous levels. In less than 8 hours, irreversible damage can be the result of volumes over 85dB. 110 dB takes around 15 minutes to trigger irreversible hearing loss. Immediate hearing loss happens at 120dB or higher. 140 to 170 dB is the average level of a gunshot.
- Recognize that If you’ve ever had difficulty hearing temporarily after going to a concert, you’ve already generated permanent harm to your hearing. It will become more obvious over time.
- Use earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when appropriate.
- When dealing with hearing protection, implement any guidelines that pertain to your situation.
- Limit your exposure time to loud sounds.
- Avoid standing close to loudspeakers or turning speakers up at home.
- Some headphones and earbuds have built in volume control for a less dangerous listening experience. They have a 90 dB upper limit. At that volume, even nonstop, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for most individuals.
- 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, do not listen on headphones at above 50%. Car speakers vary.
- Wear your hearing aid. The brain will start to atrophy if you don’t wear your hearing aid when you require it. It works the same as your muscles. If you stop using them, it will be difficult to start again.
Make an Appointment to Have a Hearing Exam
Are you putting things off or in denial? Stop it. You have to accept your hearing loss so that you can be proactive to reduce further damage.
Consult With Your Hearing Professional About Solutions For Your Hearing.
There aren’t any “natural cures” for hearing impairment. It may be time to invest in a hearing aid if your hearing loss is severe.
Do a Comparison of The Cost of Buying Hearing Aids to The Advantages
Lots of individuals are either in denial about hearing loss, or they decide to “just deal with”. They think hearing aids make them seem old. Or they are concerned that they won’t be able to afford them.
But when they recognize that hearing loss will get worse faster and can cause many health and relationship challenges, it’s easy to see that the pros well outweigh the cons.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing professional. And if hearing aids are recommended, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Modern hearing aids are stylish and advanced pieces of modern technology.