As you got older, you probably began to associate hearing loss with getting old. You probably had older adults in your life struggling to comprehend words or wearing hearing aids.
When you’re young, getting old seems so far away but as time goes by you start to realize that hearing loss is about much more than aging.
You need to understand this one thing: Acknowledging that you have hearing loss doesn’t mean that you’re old.
Hearing Loss is a Condition That Can Happen at Any Age
By 12 years old, audiologists can already detect some hearing loss in 13% of cases. Needless to say, your not “old” when you’re 12. In the past 30 years, hearing loss among teenagers has gone up by 33 %.
What’s at work here?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already suffer from debilitating hearing loss.
It isn’t an aging problem. You can 100% avoid what is generally considered “age related hearing loss”. And you have the power to significantly reduce its advancement.
Noise exposure is the typical cause of age associated or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for decades, thought to be an inevitable part of aging. But today, science knows more about how to protect your hearing and even restore it.
How Hearing Loss is Caused by Noise
Understanding how noise causes hearing loss is the first step in protecting hearing.
Waves are what sound is made of. These waves travel into your ear canal. They reach your inner ear after going past your eardrum.
Here, little hair cells in your inner ear vibrate. The intensity and speed of these vibrations will then encode a neurological signal. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But these hairs can oscillate with too much force when the inner ear gets sound that is too loud. The sound shakes them to death.
When these hairs are gone you can no longer hear.
Why Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Permanent
Wounds like cuts or broken bones will heal. But when you damage these tiny hair cells, they cannot heal, and they cannot grow back. The more often you’re subjected to loud noise, the more little hair cells fail.
As they do, hearing loss progresses.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These Common Noises
Most people don’t know that hearing loss can be caused by every day noises. These things might seem totally harmless:
- Mowing the lawn
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Using earbuds/head phones
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Running farm equipment
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Playing in a band
You don’t have to give up these activities. Luckily, you can decrease noise induced hearing loss by taking some preventative measures.
How to be Certain That You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
Acknowledging that you have hearing loss, if you’re already dealing with it, doesn’t need to make you feel old. The fact is, failing to acknowledge it can doom you to faster advancement and complications that “will” make you feel much older in just a few years like:
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
- Increased Fall Risk
- Strained relationships
For people with neglected hearing loss these are substantially more common.
Ways You Can Avoid Further Hearing Damage
Begin by understanding how to prevent hearing loss.
- So that you can figure out how loud things actually are, download a sound meter app.
- Learn when volumes become hazardous. In less than 8 hours, irreversible damage can be the result of volumes over 85dB. 110 dB takes around 15 minutes to cause permanent hearing loss. 120 dB and over causes instant hearing loss. A gunshot is between 140 to 170 dB.
- Understand that you’ve already triggered permanent hearing damage each time you’ve had a difficult time hearing right after going to a concert. It will become more severe as time passes.
- Wear earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when appropriate.
- Follow work hearing protection rules.
- If you need to be exposed to loud noises, regulate your exposure time.
- Refrain from 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 have to listen nearly non-stop all day to cause permanent damage.
- Even at lower volumes, if you have low blood oxygen, high blood pressure, or are taking some common medication, you’re hearing may still be in peril. Always keep your headphones at or below 50%. Car speakers will fluctuate and a volume meter app will help but when it comes to headphones, no louder than 50% is best policy.
- If you have a hearing aid, use it. Not wearing hearing aids when you require them causes the brain to atrophy. It’s similar to your leg muscles. If you stop using them, it will be difficult to start again.
Have a Hearing Exam
Are you putting things off or in denial? Don’t do it. Be active about reducing further damage by acknowledging your circumstance.
Consult Your Hearing Specialist About Solutions For Your Hearing.
Hearing loss does not have any “natural cure”. It could be time to invest in a hearing aid if your hearing loss is extreme.
Do a Cost to Benefit Analysis of Investing in Hearing Aids
Many individuals who do acknowledge their hearing loss just choose to cope with it. They don’t want people to think they are old because they wear hearing aids. Or they think they cost too much.
It’s easy to see, however, that when the negative effect on relationships and health will cost more over time.
Talk to a hearing care professional right away about getting a hearing test. And you don’t have to be concerned that you look old if you wind up requiring hearing aids. Modern hearing aids are stylish and advanced pieces of modern technology.