As you got older, you likely started to connect hearing loss with getting old. You likely had older adults in your life trying to understand words or wearing hearing aids.
But just like 30 or 60 only seemed old to you until it fast approached, as you learn more about hearing loss, you realize that it has less to do with aging and much more to do with something else.
Here is the one thing you should know: Acknowledging that you have hearing loss doesn’t mean that you’re old.
Hearing Loss is a Condition That Can Occur at Any Age
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already see hearing loss by the age of 12. Needless to say, you aren’t “old” when you’re 12. Teenage 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 issue. What you may consider an age-related hearing loss is 100% preventable. And you have the ability to significantly reduce its advancement.
Noise exposure is the most prevalent cause of age associated or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
For generations hearing loss was assumed to be unavoidable as you get older. But protecting and even restoring your hearing is well within the grasp of modern science.
How Noise Leads to Hearing Loss
Step one to protecting your hearing is understanding how something as “innocuous” as noise results in hearing loss.
Waves are what sound is made of. These waves go into your ear canal. They reach your inner ear after going past your eardrum.
Here, little hair cells in your inner ear oscillate. What hair cells vibrate, and how quickly or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain then converts this code into sound.
But these hairs can oscillate with too much intensity when the inner ear receives sound that is too intense. The sound shakes them to death.
When these hairs are gone you can no longer hear.
Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Permanent, Here’s Why
Wounds such as cuts or broken bones will heal. But these little hair cells don’t heal or grow back. The more often you’re exposed to loud sounds, the more little hair cells fail.
As they do, hearing loss progresses.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Most people don’t realize that hearing loss can be caused by every day noises. You might not think twice about:
- Turning up the car stereo
- Mowing the lawn
- Using head phones/earbuds
- Using farm equipment
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Being a musician
You can keep doing these things. Luckily, you can decrease noise induced hearing loss by taking some protective measures.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Older
If you’re currently suffering from hearing loss, admitting it doesn’t have to make you feel old. As a matter of fact, you will feel older much sooner if you fail to recognize your hearing loss because of complications like:
- Social Isolation
- Strained relationships
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Increased Fall Risk
For individuals with untreated hearing loss these are substantially more common.
Ways You Can Avoid Additional Hearing Problems
Learning how to stop hearing loss is the starting point.
- In order to figure out how loud things really are, get a sound meter app.
- Determine when volumes become dangerous. In less than 8 hours, irreversible hearing loss can be the result of volumes above 85dB. 110 dB takes around 15 minutes to trigger lasting hearing loss. 120 dB and above causes instantaneous hearing loss. A gunshot is between 140 to 170 dB.
- Recognize that If you’ve ever had trouble hearing for a while after going to a concert, you’ve already generated lasting damage to your hearing. The more often it happens, the worse it will become.
- When it’s necessary, use earmuffs and/or earplugs
- When it comes to hearing protection, adhere to any guidelines that apply to your situation.
- If you need to be exposed to loud sounds, limit your exposure time.
- Steer clear of standing close to loudspeakers or turning speakers up at home.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have built in volume control. They never go above 90 decibels. Most people would need to listen almost continuously all day to cause irreversible damage.
- Some medications, low blood oxygen, and even high blood pressure can make you more susceptible at lower volumes. Always keep your headphones at 50% or less. Car speakers will fluctuate and a volume meter app can help but regarding headphones, 50% or less is best policy.
- Use your hearing aid. Not using hearing aids when you need them leads to brain atrophy. It works the same way as your muscles. If you stop using them, it will be difficult to start again.
Make an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Stop it. You have to acknowledge your hearing loss so that you will be proactive to reduce further damage.
Consult Your Hearing Specialist About Solutions For Your Hearing.
There aren’t any “natural cures” for hearing impairment. If hearing loss is extreme, it may be time to get a hearing aid.
Do a Cost to Benefit Analysis of Investing in Hearing Aids
Many people are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they choose to “tough it out”. They don’t want people to think they are old because they wear hearing aids. Or they are afraid that they won’t be able to afford them.
But when they realize that hearing loss will get worse faster and can cause numerous relationship and health complications, it’s easy to see that the pros well surpass the cons.
Schedule a hearing exam with a hearing specialist. And if hearing aids are recommended, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Hearing aids today are a lot sleeker and more advanced than you may think!