When you were younger, you most likely thought of hearing loss as a result of getting old. Older adults around you were probably wearing hearing aids or struggling to hear.
When you’re young, getting old seems so distant but as time goes by you begin to recognize that hearing loss is about far more than aging.
This is the one thing you should know: It doesn’t make you old just because you acknowledge you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an Ailment That Can Happen at Any Age
By 12 years old, audiologists can already identify some hearing loss in 13% of cases. You’ll recognize, this isn’t because 12-year-olds are “old”. In the past 30 years, hearing loss in teenagers has increased by 33 %.
What’s happening here?
Debilitating hearing loss has already developed for 2% of people between 45 and 55 and 8% of people between the ages of 55 and 64.
Aging isn’t the problem. You can 100% avoid what is normally considered “age related hearing loss”. And limiting its progression is well within your power.
Age-associated hearing loss, medically known as sensorineural hearing loss, is most commonly caused by noise.
For decades hearing loss was assumed to be inescapable as you age. But today, science understands more about how to safeguard your hearing and even restore it.
How Noise Causes Hearing Loss
Step one to safeguarding your hearing is recognizing how something as “innocuous” as noise results in hearing loss.
Sound is composed of waves. The canal of your ear receives these waves. They move down past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Here, small hair cells in your inner ear oscillate. The intensity and speed of these vibrations then encode a mental signal. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But when the inner ear is exposed to sounds that are too intense, these hair cells oscillate too quickly. This level of sound destroys these hairs and they will eventually stop working.
when they’re gone, you won’t be able to hear.
Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Permanent, Here’s Why
If you cut your hand, the wound heals. But these little hair cells won’t grow back or heal. Over time, as you subject your ears to loud sounds, more and more of these hairs perish.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Many people are shocked to discover that common activities can result in hearing loss. You might not think twice about:
- Lawn mowing
- Being a musician
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Using head phones/earbuds
- attending a concert/play/movies
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Running farm equipment
You can continue to do these things. Luckily, you can decrease noise induced hearing loss by taking some preventative measures.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Old
If you’re already suffering from hearing loss, admitting it doesn’t need to make you feel old. In fact, failing to acknowledge it can doom you to faster progression and complications that “will” make you feel much older in just a few years like:
- Increased Fall Risk
- Strained relationships
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
For people with untreated hearing loss these are substantially more prevalent.
Ways You Can Prevent Further Hearing Problems
Recognizing how to stop hearing loss is the initial step.
- Get a sound meter app on your smartphone. Find out how loud things really are.
- Learn when volumes become dangerous. Over 85 dB (decibels) can lead to irreversible hearing loss in 8 hours. Permanent hearing loss, at 110 dB, happens in about 15 minutes. Instant hearing loss occurs at 120dB or higher. A gunshot is 140 to 170 dB.
- Recognize that If you’ve ever had trouble hearing temporarily after a concert, you’ve already generated lasting damage to your hearing. The more often it occurs, the worse it gets.
- Wear earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when appropriate.
- Respect work hearing protection rules.
- If you need to be exposed to loud sounds, limit the exposure time.
- Refrain from standing close to loudspeakers or cranking up speakers at home.
- Some headphones and earbuds have built in volume control for a safer listening experience. They never go over 90 dB. At that volume, even constant, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for most people.
- High blood pressure, low blood oxygen, and some medications can make you more vulnerable at lower volumes. Always keep your headphones at 50% or less. Car speakers vary.
- Use your hearing aid. Not wearing hearing aids when you need them leads to brain atrophy. It works the same as your muscles. If you stop making use of them, it will be hard to start again.
Get a Hearing Examination
Are you in denial or simply putting things off? Stop it. You have to acknowledge your hearing loss so that you will take measures to lessen further damage.
Contact Your Hearing Professional About Solutions For Your Hearing.
There are no “natural cures” for hearing loss. It may be time to get a hearing aid if your hearing loss is extreme.
Compare The Cost of Buying Hearing Aids to The Benefits
Many individuals who do acknowledge their hearing loss simply choose to deal with it. They don’t want people to think they look old because they wear 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 in the long run.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing specialist. And you don’t have to worry that you appear old if you end up needing hearing aids. Hearing aids nowadays are significantly sleeker and more sophisticated than you may think!