Growing up into adulthood, you probably began to associate hearing loss with getting old. You probably had older adults around you struggling to comprehend words or wearing hearing aids.
When you’re young, getting old seems so distant but as time passes you start to realize that hearing loss is about far more than aging.
This is the one thing you should understand: It doesn’t mean that you’re old just because you admit you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Problem”
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already notice hearing loss by the age of 12. You’ll recognize, this isn’t because a 12 year old is “old”. Teenage hearing loss has increased 33% in the last 30 years.
What’s at work here?
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’s not an aging issue. You can 100% prevent what is normally thought of as “age related hearing loss”. And limiting its development is well within your power.
Noise exposure is the typical cause of age associated or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
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
Recognizing how noise causes hearing loss is the first step in safeguarding hearing.
Waves are what sound is composed of. Your ear canal receives these waves. They arrive at your inner ear after going past your eardrum.
In your inner ear are small hair cells that oscillate when sound strikes them. The intensity and speed of these vibrations then encode a neurological signal. Your brain can convert this code into words, running water, a car horn, a cry or anything else you might hear.
But when the inner ear receives sounds that are too loud, these hair cells move too fast. This level of sound destroys these hairs and they will eventually stop working.
When these hairs are gone you can no longer hear.
Why Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Irreversible
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 expose your ears to loud sounds, more and more of these hairs perish.
Hearing loss gets worse as they do.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Many people are surprised to learn that every day activities can result in hearing loss. You may not think twice about:
- Using head phones/earbuds
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Turning up the car stereo
- Lawn mowing
- Running farm equipment
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Playing in a band
You don’t have to give up these activities. Fortunately, you can take protective steps to minimize noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Older
Acknowledging that you have hearing loss, if you already suffer from it, doesn’t have to make you feel old. The truth is, failing to accept it can doom you to faster development and complications that “will” make you feel a lot older in only a few years like:
- Social Isolation
- Strained relationships
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Increased Fall Risk
For people with neglected hearing loss these are much more prevalent.
Ways You Can Avoid Further Hearing Problems
Start by understanding how to prevent hearing loss.
- In order to figure out how loud things really are, download a sound meter app.
- Learn about hazardous levels. In less than 8 hours, irreversible damage can be caused by volumes above 85dB. 110 dB takes around 15 minutes to trigger irreversible hearing loss. 120 dB and above causes instantaneous hearing loss. 140 to 170 dB is the average volume of a gunshot.
- Recognize that If you’ve ever had trouble hearing temporarily after going to a concert, you’ve already generated permanent damage to your hearing. The more often it happens, the worse it gets.
- Wear earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when necessary.
- Respect work hearing protection rules.
- If you have to be exposed to loud noises, restrict the exposure time.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a bad idea in any situation.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have built in volume control. They never go over 90 decibels. Most people would have to listen almost non-stop all day to cause irreversible damage.
- High blood pressure, low blood oxygen, and some medications can make you more vulnerable at lower volumes. To be safe, do not listen on headphones at over 50%. Car speakers will fluctuate and a volume meter app will help but when it comes to headphones, no louder than 50% is best policy.
- If you have a hearing aid, use it. Not using hearing aids when you require them causes the brain to atrophy. It’s similar to your leg muscles. If you stop using them, it will be difficult to start again.
Schedule an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you in denial or simply putting things off? Don’t do it. You have to accept your hearing loss so that you can take measures to minimize further damage.
Consult Your Hearing Specialist About Solutions For Your Hearing Loss.
There are no “natural cures” for hearing impairment. If hearing loss is severe, it may be time to invest in a hearing aid.
Do a Comparison of The Cost of Getting Hearing Aids to The Benefits
Lots of individuals are either in denial about hearing loss, or they decide to “just deal with”. They think hearing aids make them look old. Or they are worried that they won’t be able to afford them.
It’s easy to recognize, however, that when the harmful effect on health and relationships will cost more over time.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing professional. And if hearing aids are recommended, don’t be concerned about “feeling old”. Hearing aids at present are much sleeker and more advanced than you may believe!