As you got older, you likely began to connect hearing loss with getting old. Older adults around you were probably wearing hearing aids or having a difficult time hearing.
But in the same way as 30 or 60 only seemed old to you until it started to catch up to you, as you become more aware about hearing loss, you find it has less to do with getting old and much more to do with something else.
You need to understand this one thing: Admitting that you have hearing loss doesn’t mean that you’re old.
Hearing Loss is an Ailment That Can Take Place at Any Age
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already notice hearing loss by the age of 12. Needless to say, your not “old” when you’re 12. Teen hearing loss has risen 33% in the past 30 years.
What’s the reason for this?
Debilitating hearing loss has already set in for 2% of people between the ages of 45 and 55 and 8% of people between the ages of 55 and 64.
It’s not an aging problem. You can 100% avoid what is generally thought of as “age related hearing loss”. And you have the power to dramatically minimize its progression.
Age-associated hearing loss, clinically known as sensorineural hearing loss, is most commonly caused by noise.
Hearing loss was, for many years, considered to be an inescapable part of aging. But protecting and even repairing your hearing is well within the scope of modern science.
How Hearing Loss is Caused by Noise
The first step to safeguarding your hearing is learning how something as “innocuous” as noise causes hearing loss.
Waves are what sound is made of. These waves go into your ear canal. They reach your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
Here, small hair cells in your inner ear vibrate. Which hair cells oscillate, and how quickly or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain is able to translate this code into words, rushing water, a car horn, a cry or whatever else you might hear.
But when the inner ear receives sounds that are too loud, these hair cells move too fast. This level of sound destroys these hairs and they will eventually die.
When these hairs are gone you won’t be able to hear.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Permanent, Here’s Why
If you cut your hand, the wound heals. But when you impair these tiny hair cells, they cannot heal, and they cannot regenerate. Over time, as you subject your ears to loud sounds, more and more of these hairs perish.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
Common Noises That Damage Hearing
Many people are surprised to learn that common activities can lead to hearing loss. You may not think twice about:
- Wearing earbuds/head phones
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Turning up the car stereo
- Playing in a band
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Running farm equipment
- attending a concert/play/movies
- Mowing the lawn
You don’t have to give up these activities. Luckily, you can reduce 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 have to make you feel old. The truth is, failing to acknowledge it can doom you to faster development and complications that “will” make you feel a lot older in only a few years like:
- Social Isolation
- Strained relationships
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Increased Fall Risk
These are all substantially more prevalent in people with neglected hearing loss.
Stop Further Hearing Damage
Recognizing how to prevent hearing loss is the starting point.
- Get a sound meter app on your mobile device. Find out how loud things actually are.
- Be familiar with dangerous levels. Above 85 dB (decibels) can lead to permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. 110 dB takes about 15 minutes to cause permanent hearing loss. Immediate hearing loss occurs at 120dB or higher. 140 to 170 dB is the average level of a gunshot.
- Know that If you’ve ever had trouble hearing for a while after going to a concert, you’ve already caused permanent damage to your hearing. It will become more severe as time passes.
- Use earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when appropriate.
- When dealing with hearing protection, adhere to any guidelines that apply to your situation.
- If you need to be exposed to loud sounds, limit the exposure time.
- Avoid standing close to loudspeakers or turning speakers up at home.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have integrated volume control. They have a 90 dB limit. Most people would need to listen almost non-stop all day to cause irreversible damage.
- 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 will fluctuate and a volume meter app can help but when it comes to headphones, no louder than 50% is best policy.
- Use your hearing aid. The brain will start to atrophy if you don’t wear your hearing aid when you require it. It works the same way as your muscles. If you let them go, it will be tough to get them back.
Get a Hearing Test
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Stop it. You need to accept your hearing loss so that you will take measures to decrease further damage.
Talk to Your Hearing Specialist About Hearing Loss Solutions
Hearing impairment does not have any “natural cure”. If hearing loss is extreme, it might be time to invest in a hearing aid.
Do a Cost-Benefit Analysis of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of people are either in denial about hearing loss, or they decide to “tough it out”. They don’t want people to think they are old because they wear hearing aids. Or they assume they cost too much.
It’s easy to recognize, however, that when the adverse effect on relationships and health will cost more over time.
Speak with a hearing care specialist today about having a hearing exam. And you don’t have to be concerned that you appear old if you end up requiring hearing aids. Hearing aids nowadays are significantly sleeker and more advanced than you may think!