Growing up into adulthood, you probably started to connect hearing loss with aging. Older adults around you were probably wearing hearing aids or struggling to hear.
But just like 30 or 60 only seemed old to you until it fast approached, as you become more aware about hearing loss, you find it has less to do with getting old and much more to do with something else.
This is the one thing you should know: Admitting that you have hearing loss doesn’t mean that you’re old.
Hearing Loss is an Ailment That Can Occur at Any Age
By the age of 12, audiologists can already see some hearing loss in 13% of cases. Clearly, your not “old” when you’re 12. In the past 30 years, hearing loss among teenagers has risen by 33 %.
What’s at work here?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already have debilitating hearing loss.
It isn’t an aging issue. You can 100% avoid what is normally thought of as “age related hearing loss”. And decreasing its progression is well within your ability.
Age-related hearing loss, clinically known as sensorineural hearing loss, is typically a result of noise.
Hearing loss was, for years, assumed to be an inevitable part of aging. But protecting and even restoring your hearing is well within the grasp of modern science.
How Noise Causes Hearing Loss
Understanding how noise results in hearing loss is the first step in protecting hearing.
Sound is made up of waves. These waves travel into your ear canal. They arrive at your inner ear after going past your eardrum.
Inside your inner ear are small hair cells that vibrate when sound strikes them. The intensity and speed of these vibrations will then encode a mental signal. Your brain is able to translate this code into words, rushing water, a car horn, a cry or anything else you might hear.
But these hairs can oscillate with too much intensity when the inner ear gets sound that is too intense. This level of sound damages these hairs and they will eventually die.
When these hairs die you won’t be able to hear.
Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Irreversible, Here’s Why
Wounds like cuts or broken bones heal. But these tiny hair cells don’t heal or grow back. Over time, as you expose 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 discover that daily activities can result in hearing loss. These things might seem totally harmless:
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Being a musician
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Using head phones/earbuds
- Turning the car stereo way up
- attending a concert/play/movies
- Lawn mowing
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Running farm equipment
You can keep doing these things. Fortunately, you can take protective actions to limit noise-induced hearing loss.
How to be Certain That You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
Acknowledging that you have hearing loss, if you already suffer from it, doesn’t need to make you feel old. Actually, you will feel older much sooner if you fail to recognize your hearing loss because of complications like:
- Strained relationships
- Increased Fall Risk
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
For individuals with untreated hearing loss these are a lot more common.
Prevent Further Hearing Injury
Recognizing how to avoid hearing loss is the starting point.
- In order to figure out how loud things actually are, download a sound meter app.
- Determine when volumes get dangerous. Over 85 dB (decibels) can lead to irreversible hearing loss in 8 hours. Lasting hearing loss, at 110 dB, happens in about 15 minutes. Immediate 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 trouble hearing temporarily after going to a concert, you’ve already induced lasting harm to your hearing. It will become more pronounced over time.
- When it’s required, use earmuffs and/or earplugs
- Follow work hearing protection rules.
- Limit your exposure time to loud noises.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a bad idea in any setting.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have integrated volume control. They have a 90 dB upper 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 vulnerable at lower volumes. To be safe, do not listen on headphones at above 50%. Car speakers will vary and a volume meter app can help but regarding headphones, no louder than 50% is best policy.
- If you have a hearing aid, wear it. Not wearing 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.
Get a Hearing Test
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Don’t do it. Be active about reducing further harm by acknowledging your situation.
Consult With Your Hearing Specialist About Solutions For Your Hearing.
There aren’t any “natural cures” for hearing loss. It could be time to get a hearing aid if your hearing loss is severe.
Do a Cost to Benefit Comparison of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of individuals are either in denial about hearing loss, or they decide to “just deal with”. They don’t want people to think they look old because they wear hearing aids. Or they think they cost too much.
It’s easy to see, however, that when the adverse effect on relationships and health will cost more in the long run.
Talk to a hearing care expert right away about getting a hearing exam. And you don’t need to worry that you appear old if you wind up requiring hearing aids. Hearing aids today are much sleeker and more sophisticated than you may believe!