When you were younger, you probably thought of hearing loss as a result of aging. You likely had older adults in your life struggling to understand words or wearing hearing aids.
But just like 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 getting old and much more to do with something else.
This is the one thing you should understand: It doesn’t make you old just because you acknowledge you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Issue”
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already notice hearing loss by the age of 12. Obviously, you aren’t “old” when you’re 12. In the last 30 years, hearing loss among teenagers has increased by 33 %.
What’s the cause of this?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already have disabling hearing loss.
It isn’t an aging issue. You can 100% prevent what is normally considered “age related hearing loss”. And you have the power to dramatically reduce its advancement.
Noise exposure is the most prevalent cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
For generations hearing loss was assumed to be inevitable as you get older. But these days, science knows more about how to protect your hearing and even repair it.
How Hearing Loss is Triggered by Noise
Understanding how noise results in hearing loss is the first step in safeguarding hearing.
Sound is made up of waves. These waves travel into your ear canal. They reach your inner ear after going past your eardrum.
Here, small hair cells in your inner ear oscillate. The speed and intensity of these vibrations then encode a mental signal. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But when the inner ear receives sounds that are too intense, these hair cells oscillate too rapidly. The sound vibrates them to death.
Without them, you won’t be able to hear.
Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Permanent, Here’s Why
Wounds such as cuts or broken bones will heal. But when you damage these tiny hair cells, they cannot heal, and they never regenerate. The more often you’re exposed to loud sounds, the more tiny hair cells die.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Most people don’t realize that hearing loss can be caused by every day noises. You may not think twice about:
- Being a musician
- Wearing earbuds/head phones
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
- Running farm equipment
- Going to a noisy workplace
- attending a movie/play/concert
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Mowing the lawn
You can keep doing these things. Luckily, you can take proactive measures to limit noise-induced hearing loss.
How to be Certain That You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
Admitting you have hearing loss, if you already suffer from it, doesn’t have 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 much older in only a few years like:
- Strained relationships
- Increased Fall Risk
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
These are all significantly more prevalent in individuals with untreated hearing loss.
Ways You Can Prevent Additional Hearing Problems
Get started by knowing how to prevent hearing loss.
- Download a sound meter app on your smartphone. Determine how loud things really are.
- Determine when volumes become hazardous. In less than 8 hours, permanent hearing loss can be the result of volumes over 85dB. Lasting hearing loss, at 110 dB, occurs in about 15 minutes. Immediate hearing loss happens at 120dB or higher. 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 induced lasting damage to your hearing. The more often it occurs, the worse it will become.
- Wear earplugs and/or sound-dampening earmuffs when necessary.
- Follow work hearing protection safeguards.
- If you need to be exposed to loud sounds, regulate the exposure time.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a bad idea in any setting.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have built in volume control. They never go over 90 decibels. Most people would need to listen nearly continuously all day to cause permanent damage.
- High blood pressure, low blood oxygen, and some medications can make you more susceptible at lower volumes. To be safe, never listen on headphones at over 50%. Car speakers vary.
- If you have a hearing aid, wear it. Not wearing hearing aids when you need them leads to brain atrophy. It’s similar to your leg muscles. If you stop making use of them, it will be hard to begin again.
Schedule an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Don’t do it. You have to accept your hearing loss so that you will be proactive to decrease further harm.
Talk to Your Hearing Specialist About Hearing Loss Solutions
There aren’t any “natural cures” for hearing loss. It may be time to invest in a hearing aid if your hearing loss is extreme.
Do a Cost-Benefit Analysis of Investing in Hearing Aids
Many people are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they choose to “tough it out”. They don’t want people to think they are old because they have hearing aids. Or they think they cost too much.
It’s easy to recognize, however, that when the adverse effect on relationships and health will cost more over time.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing specialist. And you don’t need to worry that you appear old if you end up requiring hearing aids. Todays hearing aids are stylish and advanced pieces of modern technology.