When you were younger, you probably thought of hearing loss as a consequence of aging. 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 find it has less to do with aging and much more to do with something else.
This is the one thing you should know: Acknowledging 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 see some hearing loss in 13% of cases. You’ll agree, this isn’t because a 12 year old is “old”. Teenage hearing loss has risen 33% in the past 30 years.
What’s the cause of this?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already suffer from disabling hearing loss.
It isn’t an aging issue. What you probably think of as age-related hearing loss is 100% avoidable. And reducing its progression is well within your ability.
Noise exposure is the most prevalent cause of age associated or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
For decades hearing loss was thought to be inescapable as you get older. But safeguarding and even repairing your hearing is well within the grasp of modern science.
How Noise Leads to Hearing Loss
Learning how noise causes hearing loss is the first step in safeguarding hearing.
Sound is composed of waves. These waves go into your ear canal. They move down past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Inside your inner ear are very small hair cells that oscillate when sound hits them. The intensity and speed of these vibrations will then encode a mental signal. Your brain then converts this code into sound.
But when the inner ear is exposed to sounds that are too intense, these hair cells move too rapidly. The sound shakes them to death.
when they’re gone, you can’t hear.
Why Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Irreversible
Wounds like cuts or broken bones heal. But when you damage these tiny hair cells, they don’t heal, and they cannot regenerate. The more often you’re subjected to loud noise, the more tiny hair cells die.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
every day Noises That Cause Hearing Damage
Most people don’t realize that hearing loss can be caused by every day noises. These things probably seem perfectly harmless:
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Playing in a band
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Mowing the lawn
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Using farm equipment
You can keep doing these things. Luckily, you can take protective steps to reduce 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. As a matter of 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
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Increased Fall Risk
- Strained relationships
These are all substantially more common in those with neglected hearing loss.
Ways You Can Avoid Further Hearing Damage
Recognizing how to avoid hearing loss is the initial step.
- Get a sound meter app on your mobile device. Determine how loud things actually are.
- Know about hazardous volumes. Above 85 dB (decibels) can lead to irreversible hearing loss in 8 hours. Lasting hearing loss, at 110 dB, takes place in about 15 minutes. 120 dB and over brings about instantaneous hearing loss. 140 to 170 dB is the average volume of a gunshot.
- Recognize that If you’ve ever had difficulty hearing temporarily after going to a concert, you’ve already generated lasting harm to your hearing. The more often it happens, the worse it will become.
- Wear earplugs and/or sound-dampening earmuffs when appropriate.
- Respect work hearing protection rules.
- If you need to be exposed to loud noises, limit your exposure time.
- Avoid standing close to loudspeakers or turning speakers up at home.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have built in volume control. They have a 90 dB upper limit. At that volume, even constant, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for most people.
- 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. To be safe, you should never listen on headphones at over 50%. Car speakers vary.
- Use 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 as the muscles in your body. If you stop making use of them, it will be hard to start again.
Have a Hearing Exam
Are you in denial or just putting things off? Stop it. You have to acknowledge your hearing loss so that you can take measures to lessen further harm.
Talk to Your Hearing Professional About Hearing Solutions
There are no “natural cures” for hearing impairment. If hearing loss is severe, it might be time to get a hearing aid.
Do a Cost to Benefit Comparison of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of individuals are either in denial about hearing loss, or they decide to “just deal with”. They don’t want people to think they look old because they have hearing aids. Or they think that they cost too much.
It’s easy to see, however, that when the harmful effect on relationships and health will cost more over time.
Speak with a hearing care professional right away about having a hearing exam. And you don’t have to worry that you look old if you end up needing hearing aids. Present day hearing aids are stylish and advanced pieces of modern technology.