Growing up into adulthood, you probably began to connect hearing loss with aging. Older adults around you were probably wearing hearing aids or having a difficult time hearing.
In your youth, getting old seems so far away but as time passes you start to realize that hearing loss is about much more than aging.
This is the one thing you should know: Admitting that you have hearing loss doesn’t mean that you’re old.
Hearing Loss is a Condition That Can Occur at Any Age
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already detect hearing loss by the age of 12. Needless to say, your not “old” when you’re 12. In the last 30 years, hearing loss in teenagers has gone up by 33 %.
What’s the cause of this?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already suffer from disabling hearing loss.
Aging isn’t the problem. What you probably consider an age-related hearing loss is 100% preventable. And you have the power to dramatically minimize its advancement.
Noise exposure is the most prevalent cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for decades, thought to be an unavoidable part of aging. But nowadays, science understands more about how to safeguard your hearing and even restore it.
How Noise Causes Hearing Loss
Step one to protecting your hearing is learning how something as “harmless” as noise results in hearing loss.
Waves are what sound is composed of. These waves travel into your ear canal. They reach your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
Here, little hair cells in your inner ear vibrate. What hair cells oscillate, and how fast or frequently they vibrate, becomes a signal in the brain. Your brain can translate this code into words, running water, a car horn, a cry or whatever else you may hear.
But when the inner ear is exposed to sounds that are too intense, these hair cells oscillate too quickly. The sound vibrates them to death.
When these hairs are gone you won’t be able to hear.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Irreversible, 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 grow back. Over time, as you subject your ears to loud sounds, more and more of these hairs perish.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
every day Noises That Damage Hearing
Most people don’t realize that hearing loss can be caused by noise we hear every day. These things probably seem completely harmless:
- Mowing the lawn
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Being a musician
- Cranking up the car stereo
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- Using farm equipment
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Going to a concert/play/movies
You don’t need to give up these things. Luckily, you can take protective actions to reduce noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Stop Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Older
Admitting you have hearing loss, if you’re already dealing with it, doesn’t need to make you feel old. As a matter of fact, you will feel older much sooner if you fail to recognize your hearing loss because of complications like:
- Social Isolation
- Increased Fall Risk
- Strained relationships
- More frequent trips to the ER
For people with untreated hearing loss these are much more common.
Prevent Further Hearing Damage
Learning how to avoid hearing loss is the starting point.
- Download a sound meter app on your phone. Find out how loud things actually are.
- Learn when volumes get harmful. Above 85 dB (decibels) can result in permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. 110 dB takes around 15 minutes to cause permanent hearing loss. Instant hearing loss happens at 120dB or higher. 140 to 170 dB is the average level of a gunshot.
- Know that If you’ve ever had difficulty hearing for a while after going to a concert, you’ve already caused permanent harm to your hearing. The more often it happens, the worse it gets.
- When it’s needed, use earplugs or earmuffs.
- When dealing with hearing protection, adhere to any rules that apply to your circumstance.
- If you have to be exposed to loud sounds, regulate your exposure time.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a poor idea in any setting.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have integrated volume control. They never go over 90 decibels. Most people would have to listen nearly non-stop all day to trigger permanent damage.
- Even at lower volumes, if you are taking some common medications, have high blood pressure, or have low blood oxygen, you’re hearing may still be in peril. To be safe, never listen on headphones at above 50%. Car speakers vary.
- Use your hearing aid. Not using hearing aids when you need them causes the brain to atrophy. It works the same as your muscles. If you stop utilizing them, it will be difficult to begin again.
Make an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you in denial or just procrastinating? Don’t do it. Be proactive about reducing further harm by recognizing your circumstance.
Speak with Your Hearing Professional About Hearing Solutions
There are no “natural cures” for hearing loss. If hearing loss is extreme, it could be time to get a hearing aid.
Do a Cost-Benefit Comparison of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of individuals are either in denial about hearing loss, or they choose to “tough it out”. They don’t want people to think they are old because they have hearing aids. Or they assume they cost too much.
But when they recognize that hearing loss will worsen faster and can cause numerous health and relationship challenges, it’s easy to recognize that the pros well outweigh the cons.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing specialist. And you don’t have to be concerned that you look old if you end up requiring hearing aids. Modern hearing aids are sophisticated and advanced pieces of modern technology.