Growing up into adulthood, you probably began to connect hearing loss with aging. You probably had older adults in your life trying to comprehend words or wearing hearing aids.
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 realize that it has less to do with the aging process and much more to do with something else.
Here is the one thing you should know: It doesn’t mean that you’re old just because you admit you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Issue”
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already detect hearing loss by the age of 12. Clearly, your not “old” when you’re 12. Teen hearing loss has risen 33% in the last 30 years.
What’s at work here?
Debilitating hearing loss has already developed for 2% of people between 45 and 55 and 8% of people between the ages of 55 and 64.
Aging isn’t the problem. You can 100% avoid what is normally considered “age related hearing loss”. And reducing its progression is well within your ability.
Noise exposure is the most common cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for years, assumed to be an inevitable part of aging. But nowadays, science understands more about how to safeguard your hearing and even repair it.
How Noise Leads to Hearing Loss
Step one to protecting your hearing is recognizing how something as “innocuous” as noise causes hearing loss.
Sound is composed of waves. The canal of your ear receives these waves. They move past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Here, little hair cells in your inner ear vibrate. What hair cells vibrate, and how rapidly or frequently they vibrate, becomes a signal in the brain. Your brain is able to translate this code into words, running water, a car horn, a cry or anything else you may hear.
But when the inner ear receives sounds that are too intense, these hair cells vibrate too rapidly. This level of sound damages these hairs and they will eventually fail.
When these hairs die you won’t be able to hear.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Permanent, Here’s Why
If you cut your hand, the wound heals. But these tiny hair cells won’t heal or grow back. The more often you’re exposed to loud noise, the more little hair cells fail.
As they do, hearing loss progresses.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Most people don’t realize that hearing loss can be caused by every day noises. You might not think twice about:
- Mowing the lawn
- Playing in a band
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- Going to a concert/play/movies
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Using farm equipment
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
You don’t have to quit these things. Luckily, you can reduce 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 need to make you feel old. As a matter of fact, failing to accept it can doom you to faster advancement and complications that “will” make you feel much older in only a few years 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 prevalent.
Ways You Can Prevent Additional Hearing Damage
Learning how to avoid hearing loss is the first step.
- Download a sound meter app on your phone. Discover how loud things really are.
- Learn when volumes become harmful. Above 85 dB (decibels) can lead to permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. 110 dB takes around 15 minutes to cause irreversible hearing loss. 120 dB and over results in instant hearing loss. A gunshot is between 140 to 170 dB.
- Recognize that If you’ve ever had difficulty hearing for a while after a concert, you’ve already induced lasting harm to your hearing. It will become more obvious as time passes.
- Use earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when necessary.
- Respect work hearing protection safeguards.
- If you need to be exposed to loud sounds, restrict 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 never go over 90 decibels. Most people would need to listen nearly non-stop all day to trigger permanent damage.
- High blood pressure, low blood oxygen, and some medications can make you more vulnerable at lower levels. To be safe, do not listen on headphones at above 50%. Car speakers will fluctuate and a volume meter app can help but regarding headphones, 50% or less is best policy.
- If you have a hearing aid, wear it. The brain will begin to atrophy if you don’t wear your hearing aid when you need it. It works the same way as the muscles in your body. If you stop using them, it will be hard to start again.
Get a Hearing Examination
Are you in denial or simply putting things off? Stop it. Be active about reducing further harm by recognizing your situation.
Consult With Your Hearing Professional About Solutions For Your Hearing Loss.
Hearing loss has no “natural cure”. If hearing loss is extreme, it may be time to invest in a hearing aid.
Do a Comparison of The Cost of Investing in Hearing Aids to The Advantages
Many people are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they choose to “just deal with”. They don’t want people to think they look old because they have hearing aids. Or they are worried that they won’t be able to afford them.
It’s easy to see, however, that when the adverse effect on relationships and health will cost more over time.
Schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional. And you don’t have to worry that you look old if you end up needing hearing aids. Todays hearing aids are sophisticated and advanced pieces of modern technology.