When you were younger, you probably thought of hearing loss as a result of aging. You probably had older adults in your life struggling to comprehend words or wearing hearing aids.
In your youth, getting old seems so distant but as time passes you start to recognize that hearing loss is about far more than aging.
You need to realize this one thing: Acknowledging that you have hearing loss doesn’t mean that you’re old.
Hearing Loss is a Condition That Can Take Place at Any Age
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already notice hearing loss by age 12. Clearly, you aren’t “old” when you’re 12. In the past 30 years, hearing loss among teenagers has increased by 33 %.
What’s the cause of this?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already have debilitating hearing loss.
It isn’t an aging problem. You can 100% avoid what is normally considered “age related hearing loss”. And limiting its progression is well within your ability.
Noise exposure is the most common cause of age associated or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for years, assumed to be an inescapable part of aging. But protecting and even repairing your hearing is well within the grasp of modern science.
How Noise Causes Hearing Loss
Step one to safeguarding your hearing is recognizing how something as “harmless” as noise results in hearing loss.
Waves are what sound is composed of. Your ear canal receives these waves. They go past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Here, tiny hair cells in your inner ear vibrate. What hair cells oscillate, and how quickly or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But when the inner ear receives sounds that are too loud, these hair cells oscillate too rapidly. The sound shakes them to death.
when they’re gone, you can’t hear.
Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Permanent, Here’s Why
Wounds such as cuts or broken bones will heal. But these tiny hair cells won’t grow back or heal. Over time, as you expose your ears to loud noise, more and more of these hairs die.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Most people don’t recognize that hearing loss can be caused by every day noises. You may not think twice about:
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- Playing in a band
- Using farm equipment
- Lawn mowing
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- attending a movie/play/concert
You can continue to do these things. Luckily, you can lessen noise induced hearing loss by taking some safety measures.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Old
Acknowledging that you have hearing loss, if you already suffer from it, doesn’t have to make you feel old. As a matter of fact, you will feel older much sooner if you fail to acknowledge your hearing loss due to complications like:
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Strained relationships
- Social Isolation
- Increased Fall Risk
These are all significantly more prevalent in people with untreated hearing loss.
Ways You Can Avoid Additional Hearing Damage
Learning how to stop hearing loss is the starting point.
- Get a sound meter app on your mobile device. Discover how loud things actually are.
- Find out when volumes become harmful. In less than 8 hours, permanent damage can be the result of volumes above 85dB. Permanent hearing loss, at 110 dB, happens in about 15 minutes. Immediate hearing loss occurs at 120dB or higher. A gunshot is between 140 to 170 dB.
- Realize that you’ve already caused permanent hearing damage every time you’ve had a hard time hearing right after a concert. The more often it occurs, the worse it gets.
- When it’s necessary, wear earmuffs and/or earplugs
- When dealing with hearing protection, follow any guidelines that pertain to your circumstance.
- If you have to be exposed to loud noises, limit your exposure time.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a poor idea in any situation.
- Some headphones and earbuds have on-board volume control for a safer listening experience. They have a 90 dB limit. Most people would have to listen almost continuously all day to trigger irreversible damage.
- Some medications, low blood oxygen, and even high blood pressure can make you more susceptible at lower levels. To be safe, you should never listen on headphones at over 50%. Car speakers vary.
- Use your hearing aid. Not wearing hearing aids when you require them causes the brain to atrophy. It works the same way as your muscles. If you stop making use of them, it will be difficult to begin again.
Schedule an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Stop it. Be active about reducing further damage by acknowledging your situation.
Consult Your Hearing Professional About Solutions For Your Hearing Loss.
Hearing impairment has no “natural cure”. 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 people are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they choose to “tough it out”. They don’t want people to think they look old because they have hearing aids. Or they think they cost too much.
But when they comprehend that hearing loss will worsen faster and can cause numerous health and relationship challenges, it’s easy to recognize that the pros well outnumber the cons.
Talk to a hearing care professional right away about having a hearing exam. And you don’t need to be concerned that you appear old if you end up requiring hearing aids. Hearing aids today are significantly sleeker and more sophisticated than you may think!