Growing up into adulthood, you likely began to associate hearing loss with aging. You likely had older adults around you trying to comprehend words or wearing hearing aids.
In your youth, getting old seems so distant but as time goes by you begin to realize 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 admit you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an Ailment That Can Take Place at Any Age
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already see hearing loss by age 12. You’ll agree, this isn’t because 12-year-olds are “old”. Teen hearing loss has risen 33% in the last 30 years.
What’s happening here?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already have debilitating hearing loss.
Aging isn’t the problem. You can 100% prevent what is generally thought of as “age related hearing loss”. And you have the power to significantly decrease its advancement.
Noise exposure is the typical cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for many years, thought to be an inevitable part of aging. 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 made up of waves. The canal of your ear receives these waves. They arrive at your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
In your inner ear are small hair cells that vibrate when sound hits them. Which hair cells oscillate, and how quickly or frequently they vibrate, becomes a signal in the brain. Your brain then converts this code into sound.
But these hairs can vibrate with too much force when the inner ear gets sound that is too loud. This level of sound damages these hairs and they will eventually fail.
When these hairs die you can no longer hear.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Permanent, Here’s Why
If you cut yourself, the cut heals. But these tiny hair cells don’t grow back or heal. Over time, as you expose your ears to loud sounds, more and more of these hairs fail.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These Common Noises
Most people don’t recognize that hearing loss can be caused by every day noises. You may not think twice about:
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Playing in a band
- attending a concert/play/movies
- Using farm equipment
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- Mowing the lawn
You can continue to do these things. Thankfully, you can take proactive measures to limit noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Old
If you’re already suffering from loss of hearing, acknowledging it doesn’t need to make you feel old. Actually, you will feel older a lot sooner if you fail to recognize your hearing loss because of complications like:
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Strained relationships
- Increased Fall Risk
- Social Isolation
For people with untreated hearing loss these are substantially more prevalent.
Stop Further Hearing Injury
Learning how to stop hearing loss is the starting point.
- Download a sound meter app on your mobile device. Learn how loud things really are.
- Learn about hazardous volumes. Above 85 dB (decibels) can result in irreversible hearing loss in 8 hours. Permanent hearing loss, at 110 dB, happens in about 15 minutes. 120 dB and above results in immediate hearing loss. 140 to 170 dB is the average level of a gunshot.
- Realize that you’ve already triggered irreversible hearing damage every time you’ve had a hard time hearing right after going to a concert. The more often it occurs, the worse it will become.
- When it’s necessary, wear earmuffs and/or earplugs
- Implement work hearing protection rules.
- Reduce your exposure time to loud noises.
- Steer clear of standing close to loudspeakers or turning speakers up at home.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have integrated volume control. They never go over 90 decibels. Most people would need to listen almost continuously all day to cause permanent damage.
- Some medications, low blood oxygen, and even high blood pressure can make you more susceptible at lower levels. Always keep your headphones at 50% or less. Car speakers will fluctuate and a volume meter app will help but regarding headphones, 50% or less is best policy.
- If you have a hearing aid, wear it. The brain will start to atrophy if you don’t wear your hearing aid when you require it. It’s similar to your leg muscles. If you stop using them, it will be hard to begin again.
Make an Appointment to Have a Hearing Exam
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Stop it. You have to accept your hearing loss so that you will be proactive to minimize further harm.
Talk to Your Hearing Specialist About Hearing Solutions
Hearing impairment has no “natural cure”. It may be time to get a hearing aid if your hearing loss is severe.
Do a Cost-Benefit Analysis of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of individuals who do acknowledge their hearing loss simply decide to deal with it. They don’t want people to think they are old because they have 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 health and relationships will cost more over time.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing professional. And you don’t need to be concerned that you look old if you end up needing hearing aids. Modern hearing aids are stylish and advanced pieces of modern technology.