When you were younger, you most likely considered hearing loss a result of getting old. Older adults in your life were probably wearing hearing aids or struggling to hear.
When you’re young, getting old seems so far away but as time passes you start to realize that hearing loss is about far more than aging.
Here is the one thing you should know: It doesn’t make you old just because you acknowledge you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an Ailment That Can Take Place at Any Age
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already detect hearing loss by age 12. Obviously, your not “old” when you’re 12. In the last 30 years, hearing loss among teenagers has risen by 33 %.
What’s at work here?
Debilitating hearing loss has already developed for 2% of individuals between the ages of 45 and 55 and 8% of people between 55 and 64.
Aging isn’t the issue. What you may think of as age-related hearing loss is 100% preventable. And you have the ability to dramatically minimize its development.
Age-associated hearing loss, known medically sensorineural hearing loss, is most commonly a result of noise.
Hearing loss was, for many years, assumed to be an unavoidable part of aging. But nowadays, science understands more about how to protect your hearing and even repair it.
How Noise Causes Hearing Loss
The first step to protecting your hearing is recognizing how something as “innocuous” as noise causes hearing loss.
Sound is composed of waves. Your ear canal receives these waves. They progress past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Inside your inner ear are small hair cells which vibrate when sound impacts them. The speed and intensity of these vibrations then encode a mental signal. Your brain can translate this code into words, rushing water, a car horn, a cry or whatever else you may hear.
But when the inner ear is exposed to sounds that are too loud, these hair cells vibrate too rapidly. This level of sound damages these hairs and they will eventually stop working.
Without them, you can’t hear.
Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Irreversible, Here’s Why
If you cut your hand, the cut heals. But when you damage these little hair cells, they cannot heal, and they cannot regenerate. The more often you’re exposed to loud sounds, the more tiny hair cells fail.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Many people are shocked to find out that daily activities can result in hearing loss. You may not think twice about:
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- attending a concert/play/movies
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Lawn mowing
- Using farm equipment
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- Being a musician
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
You don’t need to quit these activities. Thankfully, you can take protective measures to reduce noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Old
Admitting you have hearing loss, if you already suffer from it, doesn’t have to make you feel old. Actually, you will feel older a lot sooner if you fail to recognize your hearing loss because of complications like:
- Social Isolation
- Strained relationships
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Increased Fall Risk
For people with untreated hearing loss these are much more common.
Reduce Further Hearing Damage
Learning how to stop hearing loss is the initial step.
- Get a sound meter app on your smartphone. Learn how loud things really are.
- Learn when volumes become dangerous. Above 85 dB (decibels) can result in irreversible hearing loss in 8 hours. Permanent hearing loss, at 110 dB, happens in over 15 minutes. Instant hearing loss takes place at 120dB or higher. 140 to 170 dB is the average level of a gunshot.
- Realize that you’ve already triggered permanent hearing damage every time you’ve had a hard time hearing right after going to a concert. The more often it occurs, the worse it gets.
- When it’s necessary, use earplugs or earmuffs.
- Respect work hearing protection safeguards.
- Regulate your exposure time to loud sounds.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a bad idea in any situation.
- Some headphones and earbuds have on-board volume control for a less dangerous listening experience. They never go above 90 dB. At that level, even nonstop, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for most individuals.
- Even at lower volumes, if you are taking some common medications, have high blood pressure, or have low blood oxygen, you’re hearing may still be in danger. Always keep your headphones at 50% or less. Car speakers vary.
- Wear your hearing aid. The brain will begin to atrophy if you don’t wear your hearing aid when you require it. It works the same way as your muscles. If you stop using them, it will be hard to start again.
Have a Hearing Exam
Are you in denial or just putting things off? Don’t do it. You have to acknowledge your hearing loss so that you will be proactive to reduce further damage.
Talk to Your Hearing Specialist About Hearing Solutions
Hearing impairment does not have any “natural cure”. If hearing loss is extreme, it might be time to get a hearing aid.
Do a Cost-Benefit Analysis of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of people are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they choose to “tough it out”. They don’t want people to think they look old because they have hearing aids. Or they are afraid 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 see that the pros well surpass the cons.
Consult a hearing care specialist right away about having a hearing test. And if hearing aids are recommended, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Todays hearing aids are sophisticated and state-of-the-art pieces of modern technology.