When you were younger, you most likely considered hearing loss a result of getting old. You probably had older adults in your life trying to comprehend words or wearing hearing aids.
But in the same way as 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 understand: Acknowledging that you have hearing loss doesn’t make you old.
Hearing Loss is an Ailment That Can Take Place at Any Age
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already notice hearing loss by age 12. You’ll agree, this isn’t because a 12 year old is “old”. Teenage hearing loss has gone up 33% in the last 30 years.
What’s the reason for this?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already have debilitating hearing loss.
It isn’t an aging issue. You can 100% avoid what is typically thought of as “age related hearing loss”. And limiting its progression is well within your power.
Age-associated hearing loss, scientifically known as sensorineural hearing loss, is typically caused by noise.
For generations hearing loss was assumed to be inevitable as you get older. But today, science understands more about how to protect your hearing and even restore it.
How Noise Causes Hearing Loss
The first step to safeguarding your hearing is recognizing how something as “harmless” as noise results in hearing loss.
Sound is composed of waves. These waves go into your ear canal. They arrive at your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
Inside your inner ear are small hair cells which oscillate when sound strikes them. The intensity and speed of these vibrations will then encode a neurological signal. Your brain is able to translate this code into words, running water, a car horn, a cry or anything else you might hear.
But these hairs can oscillate with too much intensity when the inner ear gets sound that is too intense. The sound vibrates them to death.
Without them, you can’t hear.
Why Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Permanent
If you cut your hand, the wound heals. But when you damage these little hair cells, they cannot heal, and they never regenerate. The more often you’re subjected to loud noise, the more little hair cells die.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
Common Noises That Damage Hearing
Many people are surprised to find out that daily activities can result in hearing loss. You may not think twice about:
- Wearing earbuds/head phones
- Using farm equipment
- Going to a concert/play/movies
- Being a musician
- Cranking up the car stereo
- Lawn mowing
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
You don’t need to give up these things. Luckily, you can lessen noise induced hearing loss by taking some preventative measures.
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. As a matter of fact, failing to accept it can doom you to faster development and complications that “will” make you feel much older in just a few years like:
- Social Isolation
- Strained relationships
- Increased Fall Risk
- More frequent trips to the ER
These are all considerably more prevalent in people with neglected hearing loss.
Ways You Can Avoid Additional Hearing Damage
Learning how to prevent hearing loss is the initial step.
- Download a sound meter app on your smartphone. Find out how loud things actually are.
- Be familiar with hazardous levels. Over 85 dB (decibels) can result in irreversible hearing loss in 8 hours. Lasting hearing loss, at 110 dB, takes place in over 15 minutes. Instant hearing loss takes place at 120dB or higher. 140 to 170 dB is the average volume of a gunshot.
- Know that If you’ve ever had trouble hearing for a while after a concert, you’ve already caused lasting harm to your hearing. The more often it occurs, the worse it gets.
- Use earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when necessary.
- Respect work hearing protection rules.
- If you have to be exposed to loud sounds, limit your exposure time.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a bad idea in any setting.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have integrated volume control. They never go over 90 dB. At that volume, even nonstop, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for the majority of individuals.
- High blood pressure, low blood oxygen, and some medications can make you more susceptible at lower levels. To be safe, never listen on headphones at above 50%. Car speakers vary.
- If you have a hearing aid, wear it. Not wearing hearing aids when you need them results in brain atrophy. It works the same as the muscles in your body. If you let them go, it will be tough to get them back.
Have a Hearing Test
Are you putting things off or in denial? Stop it. You need to accept your hearing loss so that you can be proactive to lessen further damage.
Contact Your Hearing Professional About Solutions For Your Hearing Loss.
Hearing impairment has no “natural cure”. 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
Many individuals who do recognize their hearing loss just choose to cope with it. They don’t want people to think they are old because they have hearing aids. Or they think they cost too much.
But when they recognize that hearing loss will worsen faster and can cause numerous relationship and health challenges, it’s easy to recognize that the pros well outweigh the cons.
Schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional. And if hearing aids are recommended, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Present day hearing aids are sophisticated and advanced pieces of modern technology.