Growing up into adulthood, you likely began to associate hearing loss with getting old. You probably had older adults in your life struggling to understand words or wearing hearing aids.
But in the same way as 30 or 60 only seemed old to you until it started to catch up to you, as you learn more about hearing loss, you realize that it has less to do with the aging process and much more to do with something else.
This is the one thing you should understand: It doesn’t make you old just because you admit you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Issue”
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. In the past 30 years, hearing loss in teenagers has risen by 33 %.
What’s the cause of this?
Disabling hearing loss has already developed for 2% of people between the ages of 45 and 55 and 8% of people between the ages of 55 and 64.
It isn’t an aging problem. What you probably think of as age-related hearing loss is 100% avoidable. And limiting its progression is well within your ability.
Age-related hearing loss, medically known as sensorineural hearing loss, is most commonly a result of noise.
Hearing loss was, for many years, assumed 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
Step one to safeguarding your hearing is learning how something as “innocuous” as noise results in hearing loss.
Waves are what sound is composed of. Your ear canal receives these waves. They reach your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
Here, small hair cells in your inner ear vibrate. The intensity and speed of these vibrations 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 intense. The sound vibrates them to death.
When these hairs die you can no longer hear.
Why Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Permanent
Wounds such as cuts or broken bones will heal. But when you impair these little hair cells, they cannot heal, and they cannot regenerate. The more often you’re subjected to loud noise, the more little hair cells die.
As they do, hearing loss worsens.
every day Noises That Damage Hearing
Many people are shocked to discover that daily activities can result in hearing loss. You may not think twice about:
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Running farm equipment
- Being a musician
- Wearing earbuds/head phones
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Going to a concert/play/movies
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
- Mowing the lawn
You don’t have to give up these activities. Luckily, you can reduce noise induced hearing loss by taking some safety measures.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Older
If you’re already suffering from hearing loss, admitting it doesn’t need to make you feel old. As a matter of fact, you will feel older a lot sooner if you fail to acknowledge your hearing loss due to complications like:
- Strained relationships
- Social Isolation
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Increased Fall Risk
For people with neglected hearing loss these are a lot more common.
Ways You Can Prevent Further Hearing Problems
Learning how to stop hearing loss is the first step.
- Download a sound meter app on your mobile device. Determine how loud things really are.
- Learn about harmful levels. Over 85 dB (decibels) can result in irreversible hearing loss in 8 hours. Irreversible hearing loss, at 110 dB, happens in over 15 minutes. Instant hearing loss happens at 120dB or higher. 140 to 170 dB is the average volume of a gunshot.
- Know that If you’ve ever had trouble hearing temporarily after a concert, you’ve already induced lasting damage to your hearing. The more often it happens, the worse it will become.
- When it’s necessary, use earplugs or earmuffs.
- Implement work hearing protection safeguards.
- Reduce your exposure time to loud noises.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a bad idea in any setting.
- Some headphones and earbuds have built in volume control for a less dangerous listening experience. They never go above 90 decibels. At that volume, even nonstop, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for the majority of people.
- High blood pressure, low blood oxygen, and some medications can make you more vulnerable at lower levels. Always keep your headphones at or below 50%. Car speakers will fluctuate and a volume meter app will help but regarding headphones, no louder than 50% is best policy.
- Wear your hearing aid. Not using hearing aids when you need them causes the brain to atrophy. It’s similar to your leg muscles. If you let them go, it will be difficult to get them back.
Make an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you in denial or simply putting things off? Stop it. Be active about reducing further harm by recognizing your circumstance.
Speak with Your Hearing Professional About Hearing Loss Solutions
There are no “natural cures” for hearing loss. If hearing loss is extreme, it might be time to invest in a hearing aid.
Do a Comparison of The Cost of Investing in Hearing Aids to The Benefits
Lots of individuals are either in denial about hearing loss, or they decide to “tough it out”. They don’t want people to think they look old because they have hearing aids. Or they assume they cost too much.
It’s easy to see, however, that when the harmful effect on health and relationships will cost more over time.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing specialist. And if hearing aids are recommended, don’t be concerned about “feeling old”. Present day hearing aids are stylish and advanced pieces of modern technology.