As you got older, you probably 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 aging 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 Problem”
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already see hearing loss by the age of 12. You’ll agree, this isn’t because 12-year-olds are “old”. Teen hearing loss has risen 33% in the past 30 years.
What’s happening here?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already have disabling hearing loss.
It’s not an aging problem. You can 100% prevent what is typically thought of as “age related hearing loss”. And you have the ability to significantly decrease its progression.
Noise exposure is the typical cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
For generations hearing loss was thought to be unavoidable as you age. But these days, science understands more about how to safeguard your hearing and even restore it.
How Noise Leads to Hearing Loss
Understanding how noise causes hearing loss is the first step in safeguarding hearing.
Waves are what sound is made of. These waves go into your ear canal. They arrive at your inner ear after going past your eardrum.
Here, small hair cells in your inner ear vibrate. Which hair cells vibrate, and how quickly or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain then converts this code into sound.
But these hairs can oscillate with too much intensity when the inner ear receives sound that is too loud. This level of sound damages these hairs and they will eventually fail.
when they’re gone, you won’t be able to hear.
Why Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Irreversible
If you cut yourself, the wound heals. But these little hair cells won’t grow back or heal. Over time, as you subject your ears to loud noise, more and more of these hairs fail.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Many people are shocked to find out that daily activities can result in hearing loss. You might not think twice about:
- Cranking up the car stereo
- attending a concert/play/movies
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Playing in a band
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Running farm equipment
- Lawn mowing
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Wearing earbuds/head phones
You can continue to do these things. Luckily, you can minimize noise induced hearing loss by taking some preventative measures.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Old
If you’re currently suffering from hearing loss, admitting it doesn’t have to make you feel older. The truth is, failing to accept it can doom you to faster development and complications that “will” make you feel much older in only a few years like:
- Social Isolation
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Strained relationships
- Increased Fall Risk
These are all considerably more common in those with neglected hearing loss.
Prevent Further Hearing Injury
Start by knowing how to prevent hearing loss.
- Get a sound meter app on your mobile device. Discover how loud things really are.
- Determine when volumes get dangerous. Above 85 dB (decibels) can result in permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. Permanent hearing loss, at 110 dB, takes place in over 15 minutes. Instant hearing loss occurs at 120dB or higher. A gunshot is 140 to 170 dB.
- Recognize that If you’ve ever had difficulty hearing temporarily after going to a concert, you’ve already generated lasting harm to your hearing. It will become more pronounced over time.
- Use earplugs and/or sound-dampening earmuffs when necessary.
- When it comes to hearing protection, follow any rules that apply to your circumstance.
- If you have to be exposed to loud noises, 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 above 90 dB. Most people would need to listen almost continuously all day to cause irreversible damage.
- Some medications, low blood oxygen, and even high blood pressure can make you more vulnerable at lower volumes. Always keep your headphones at 50% or less. 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. Not using hearing aids when you require them results in brain atrophy. It works the same way as your muscles. If you let them go, it will be hard to get them back.
Get a Hearing Exam
Are you putting things off or in denial? Don’t do it. You need to acknowledge your hearing loss so that you will be proactive to reduce further harm.
Talk to Your Hearing Professional About Hearing Loss Solutions
There aren’t any “natural cures” for hearing impairment. It could be time to invest in a hearing aid if your hearing loss is severe.
Do a Cost to Benefit Analysis of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of people who do acknowledge their hearing loss simply choose to deal with it. They don’t want people to think they are old because they wear hearing aids. Or they assume that they cost too much.
But when they realize that hearing loss will worsen faster and can cause many health and relationship challenges, it’s easy to see that the pros well outnumber the cons.
Consult a hearing care specialist today about having a hearing exam. And you don’t need to be concerned that you look old if you end up requiring hearing aids. Present day hearing aids are sophisticated and state-of-the-art pieces of modern technology.