When you were younger, you probably considered hearing loss a consequence of aging. Older adults in your life were probably wearing hearing aids or struggling to hear.
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 aging and much more to do with something else.
You need to understand this one thing: Admitting that you have hearing loss doesn’t make you old.
Hearing Loss is a Condition That Can Take Place at Any Age
By the age of 12, audiologists can already detect some hearing loss in 13% of cases. Obviously, your not “old” when you’re 12. In the past 30 years, hearing loss among teenagers has risen by 33 %.
What’s the cause of this?
Debilitating hearing loss has already developed for 2% of people between 45 and 55 and 8% of people between 55 and 64.
It’s not an aging problem. What you may think of as age-related hearing loss is 100% avoidable. And you have the power to dramatically minimize its development.
Noise exposure is the typical cause of age associated or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for many years, considered to be an unavoidable part of aging. But these days, science understands more about how to safeguard your hearing and even repair it.
How Noise Leads to Hearing Loss
Recognizing how noise causes hearing loss is the first step in protecting hearing.
Waves are what sound is composed of. Your ear canal receives these waves. They go past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Here, little hair cells in your inner ear vibrate. What hair cells vibrate, and how rapidly or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain can translate this code into words, rushing water, a car horn, a cry or whatever else you might hear.
But when the inner ear is exposed to sounds that are too loud, these hair cells vibrate too quickly. This level of sound damages these hairs and they will eventually die.
When these hairs die you can no longer hear.
Why Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Irreversible
If you cut your hand, the wound heals. But these little hair cells don’t grow back or heal. The more often you’re exposed to loud noise, the more little hair cells die.
As they do, hearing loss worsens.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Most people don’t know that hearing loss can be caused by every day noises. These things may seem completely harmless:
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Being a musician
- Using farm equipment
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- Going to a concert/play/movies
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Lawn mowing
- Turning up the car stereo
You don’t have to quit these things. Luckily, you can take protective measures to minimize noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Make Sure You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
If you’re currently suffering from loss of hearing, admitting it doesn’t have to make you feel older. In fact, failing to accept it can doom you to faster progression and complications that “will” make you feel a lot older in only a few years like:
- Increased Fall Risk
- Social Isolation
- Strained relationships
- More frequent trips to the ER
These are all significantly more prevalent in individuals with untreated hearing loss.
Ways You Can Prevent Additional Hearing Problems
Start by learning how to prevent hearing loss.
- Download a sound meter app on your mobile device. Learn how loud things actually are.
- Learn about harmful volumes. Above 85 dB (decibels) can result in irreversible hearing loss in 8 hours. 110 dB takes about 15 minutes to cause lasting hearing loss. 120 dB and over causes instant hearing loss. A gunshot is 140 to 170 dB.
- Know that If you’ve ever had trouble hearing temporarily after going to a concert, you’ve already caused permanent damage to your hearing. It will become more severe with time.
- When it’s required, wear earplugs or earmuffs.
- Follow work hearing protection rules.
- Regulate your exposure time to loud sounds.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a poor idea in any situation.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have built in volume control. They never go over 90 dB. Most people would have to listen nearly continuously all day to cause permanent damage.
- High blood pressure, low blood oxygen, and some medications can make you more vulnerable at lower levels. To be safe, do not listen on headphones at over 50%. Car speakers vary.
- Wear your hearing aid. The brain will start to atrophy if you don’t wear your hearing aid when you need it. It works the same way as the muscles in your body. If you let them go, it will be hard to get them back.
Make an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you in denial or simply putting things off? Don’t do it. Be active about reducing further harm by recognizing your circumstance.
Speak with Your Hearing Professional About Hearing 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 severe.
Do a Comparison of The Cost of Investing in Hearing Aids to The Benefits
Lots of individuals who do recognize their hearing loss simply choose to deal with it. They don’t want people to think they look old because they wear hearing aids. Or they are worried that they won’t be able to afford them.
But when they recognize that hearing loss will get worse faster and can cause numerous health and relationship challenges, it’s easy to recognize that the pros well outweigh the cons.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing specialist. And if hearing aids are advised, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Hearing aids at present are a lot sleeker and more sophisticated than you may believe!