Growing up into adulthood, you probably began to connect hearing loss with getting old. You likely 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 passes you begin to realize that hearing loss is about much more than aging.
This is the one thing you should understand: It doesn’t make you old just because you acknowledge you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Issue”
By 12 years old, audiologists can already identify some hearing loss in 13% of cases. You’ll agree, this isn’t because a 12 year old is “old”. Teen hearing loss has gone up 33% in the last 30 years.
What’s at work here?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already suffer from disabling hearing loss.
Aging isn’t the issue. What you probably consider an age-related hearing loss is 100% avoidable. And limiting its progression is well within your power.
Noise exposure is the most common cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
For generations hearing loss was thought to be unavoidable as you get older. But these days, science understands more about how to safeguard your hearing and even restore it.
How Noise Leads to Hearing Loss
The first step to protecting your hearing is recognizing how something as “innocuous” as noise causes hearing loss.
Waves are what sound is made of. Your ear canal receives these waves. They reach your inner ear after going past your eardrum.
Inside your inner ear are tiny hair cells which oscillate when sound impacts them. What hair cells oscillate, and how rapidly or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But these hairs can move with too much force when the inner ear gets sound that is too loud. The sound vibrates them to death.
When these hairs die you won’t be able to hear.
Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Permanent, Here’s Why
If you cut yourself, the cut heals. But when you impair these little hair cells, they don’t heal, and they cannot grow back. Over time, as you subject your ears to loud noise, more and more of these hairs fail.
Hearing loss gets worse as they do.
Common Noises That Cause Hearing Damage
Many people are surprised to find out that common activities can lead to hearing loss. These things might seem totally harmless:
- Playing in a band
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Lawn mowing
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Running farm equipment
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Using head phones/earbuds
You can continue to do these things. Fortunately, you can take protective actions to limit noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Stop Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Older
Admitting you have hearing loss, if you already suffer from 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 much older in just a few years like:
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
- Increased Fall Risk
- Strained relationships
For individuals with untreated hearing loss these are much more prevalent.
Ways You Can Prevent Further Hearing Problems
Start by knowing how to avoid hearing loss.
- In order to find out how loud things actually are, download a sound meter app.
- Learn when volumes become hazardous. Over 85 dB (decibels) can lead to irreversible hearing loss in 8 hours. 110 dB takes about 15 minutes to trigger permanent hearing loss. 120 dB and above results in instantaneous hearing loss. A gunshot is 140 to 170 dB.
- Recognize that If you’ve ever had difficulty hearing for a while after going to a concert, you’ve already caused permanent damage to your hearing. It will become more severe with time.
- When it’s needed, wear earplugs or earmuffs.
- When it comes to hearing protection, implement any rules that pertain to your circumstance.
- Limit your exposure time to loud noises.
- Avoid standing close to loudspeakers or turning speakers up at home.
- Some headphones and earbuds have on-board volume control for a safer listening experience. They never go over 90 decibels. At that level, even constant, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for the majority of people.
- Even at lower volumes, if you have low blood oxygen, high blood pressure, or are taking some common medication, you’re hearing might still be in danger. To be safe, never listen on headphones at over 50%. Car speakers will fluctuate and a volume meter app will help but when it comes to headphones, 50% or less is best policy.
- If you have a hearing aid, use it. The brain will start to atrophy if you don’t use your hearing aid when you need it. It works the same as the muscles in your body. If you let them go, it will be hard to get them back.
Schedule an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you in denial or simply procrastinating? Don’t do it. Be active about reducing further harm by recognizing your circumstance.
Talk to Your Hearing Specialist About Hearing Loss Solutions
There are no “natural cures” for hearing loss. If hearing loss is severe, it might be time to invest in a hearing aid.
Compare The Cost of Buying Hearing Aids to The Benefits
Lots of individuals who do recognize their hearing loss just decide to cope with it. They don’t want people to think they look old because they wear hearing aids. Or they think they cost too much.
It’s easy to see, however, that when the harmful effect on relationships and health will cost more over time.
Schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional. And you don’t have to worry that you look old if you wind up requiring hearing aids. Todays hearing aids are sophisticated and state-of-the-art pieces of modern technology.