When you were younger, you probably thought of hearing loss as a consequence of aging. Older adults around you were probably wearing hearing aids or struggling to hear.
When you’re young, getting old seems so distant but as time passes you begin to recognize that hearing loss is about a lot more than aging.
You need to realize this one thing: 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 see hearing loss by age 12. Needless to say, you aren’t “old” when you’re 12. In the last 30 years, hearing loss among teenagers has risen by 33 %.
What’s at work here?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already suffer from debilitating hearing loss.
Aging isn’t the problem. You can 100% prevent what is generally thought of as “age related hearing loss”. And reducing its development is well within your power.
Age-related hearing loss, scientifically known as sensorineural hearing loss, is usually caused by noise.
For decades hearing loss was assumed to be unavoidable as you age. But protecting and even restoring your hearing is well within the scope of modern science.
How Hearing Loss is Triggered by Noise
Understanding how noise results in hearing loss is the first step in safeguarding hearing.
Sound is composed of waves. These waves go into your ear canal. They progress down past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Here, small hair cells in your inner ear vibrate. The intensity and speed of these vibrations will then encode a neurological signal. Your brain then converts this code into sound.
But these hairs can move with too much force when the inner ear receives sound that is too loud. This level of sound destroys these hairs and they will eventually stop working.
Without them, you can’t hear.
Why Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Irreversible
Wounds like cuts or broken bones will heal. But when you damage these little hair cells, they don’t heal, and they never grow back. Over time, as you expose your ears to loud sounds, more and more of these hairs die.
As they do, hearing loss progresses.
Everyday Noises That Damage Hearing
Many people are shocked to learn that daily activities can result in hearing loss. You may not think twice about:
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- Playing in a band
- Mowing the lawn
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Running farm equipment
You can keep doing these things. Luckily, you can take proactive actions to minimize noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Make Sure You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
Admitting you have hearing loss, if you’re already dealing with it, doesn’t need to make you feel old. In fact, failing to acknowledge it can doom you to faster progression and complications that “will” make you feel a lot older in just a few years like:
- Social Isolation
- Strained relationships
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Increased Fall Risk
These are all considerably more prevalent in people with untreated hearing loss.
Ways You Can Avoid Additional Hearing Damage
Begin by learning how to avoid hearing loss.
- Get a sound meter app on your smartphone. Determine how loud things really are.
- Find out when volumes become harmful. Above 85 dB (decibels) can lead to permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. Lasting hearing loss, at 110 dB, occurs in about 15 minutes. 120 dB and over will cause instantaneous hearing loss. A gunshot is 140 to 170 dB.
- Realize that you’ve already triggered irreversible hearing damage every time you’ve had a hard time hearing right after going to a concert. It will become more pronounced over time.
- Wear earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when necessary.
- When dealing with hearing protection, follow any safeguards that apply to your situation.
- If you need to be exposed to loud sounds, restrict your exposure time.
- Avoid standing near loudspeakers or cranking up speakers at home.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have built in volume control. They never go over 90 decibels. Most people would have to listen almost non-stop all day to trigger irreversible damage.
- Even at lower levels, if you have low blood oxygen, high blood pressure, or are taking some common medication, you’re hearing may still be in peril. Always keep your headphones at 50% or less. Car speakers will vary and a volume meter app can help but when it comes to headphones, 50% or less is best policy.
- If you have a hearing aid, use it. The brain will begin to atrophy if you don’t wear your hearing aid when you need it. It’s similar to your leg muscles. If you let them go, it will be difficult to get them back.
Get a Hearing Examination
Are you putting things off or in denial? Don’t do it. Be active about reducing further harm by recognizing your circumstance.
Consult With Your Hearing Professional About Solutions For Your Hearing.
Hearing loss has no “natural cure”. If hearing loss is severe, it could be time to get a hearing aid.
Do a Cost-Benefit Comparison of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of individuals are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they decide to “just deal with”. They don’t want people to think they are old because they wear hearing aids. Or they are worried that they won’t be able to afford them.
It’s easy to see, however, that when the adverse effect on relationships and health will cost more in the long run.
Schedule a hearing exam with a hearing specialist. And if hearing aids are advised, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Todays hearing aids are stylish and advanced pieces of modern technology.