Growing up into adulthood, you likely began to connect hearing loss with aging. You likely had older adults around you trying 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 a lot more than aging.
You need to realize this one thing: 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. You’ll agree, this isn’t because 12-year-olds are “old”. In the last 30 years, hearing loss in teenagers has increased by 33 %.
What’s happening here?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already suffer from disabling hearing loss.
Aging isn’t the issue. What you may consider an age-related hearing loss is 100% avoidable. And you have the ability to significantly reduce its progression.
Noise exposure is the most common cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for many years, considered to be an unavoidable part of aging. But safeguarding and even repairing your hearing is well within the grasp of modern science.
How Noise Causes Hearing Loss
Recognizing how noise causes hearing loss is step one in protecting hearing.
Waves are what sound is composed of. The canal of your ear receives these waves. They reach your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
Inside your inner ear are little hair cells which vibrate when sound strikes them. The intensity and speed of these vibrations will then encode a neurological signal. Your brain then converts this code into sound.
But these hairs can oscillate with too much intensity when the inner ear gets sound that is too loud. This level of sound destroys these hairs and they will eventually die.
When these hairs are gone you can no longer hear.
Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Permanent, Here’s Why
Wounds such as cuts or broken bones will heal. But when you impair these little hair cells, they cannot heal, and they cannot regenerate. The more often you’re subjected to loud noise, the more tiny hair cells fail.
As they do, hearing loss worsens.
every day Noises That Damage Hearing
Many people are shocked to discover that every day activities can cause hearing loss. These things may seem perfectly harmless:
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Cranking up the car stereo
- Using farm equipment
- Being a musician
- Mowing the lawn
- Using head phones/earbuds
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Going to a noisy workplace
You don’t have to give up these activities. Luckily, you can minimize noise induced hearing loss by taking some protective measures.
How to Make Sure You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
Admitting you have hearing loss, if you’re already dealing with it, doesn’t need to make you feel old. The fact is, failing to acknowledge it can doom you to faster progression and complications that “will” make you feel a lot older in just a few years like:
- Strained relationships
- Social Isolation
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Increased Fall Risk
For people with neglected hearing loss these are substantially more common.
Reduce Further Hearing Injury
Start by knowing how to avoid hearing loss.
- So that you can figure out how loud things really are, download a sound meter app.
- Be familiar with harmful volumes. In under 8 hours, permanent damage can be caused by volumes over 85dB. 110 dB takes about 15 minutes to trigger irreversible hearing loss. 120 dB and over will cause instantaneous hearing loss. 140 to 170 dB is the average volume of a gunshot.
- Understand that you’ve already caused irreversible hearing damage each time you’ve had a difficult time hearing right after going to a concert. It will become more severe as time passes.
- Use earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when appropriate.
- Respect work hearing protection rules.
- If you have to be exposed to loud sounds, limit the exposure time.
- Refrain from standing close to loudspeakers or cranking up speakers at home.
- Some headphones and earbuds have on-board volume control for a less dangerous listening experience. They have a 90 dB limit. Most people would have to listen almost non-stop all day to trigger permanent damage.
- High blood pressure, low blood oxygen, and some medications can make you more susceptible at lower levels. Always keep your headphones at or below 50%. Car speakers will vary and a volume meter app will help but when it comes to headphones, 50% or less is best policy.
- Wear your hearing aid. The brain will begin to atrophy if you don’t wear your hearing aid when you need it. It’s a lot like your leg muscles. If you let them go, it will be hard to get them back.
Make an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you in denial or just putting things off? Don’t do it. You need to acknowledge your hearing loss so that you can take measures to reduce further harm.
Speak with Your Hearing Professional About Hearing Solutions
There are no “natural cures” for hearing impairment. It may be time to get a hearing aid if your hearing loss is severe.
Do a Cost-Benefit Analysis of Investing in Hearing Aids
Many individuals are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they decide to “just deal with”. They don’t want people to think they are old because they wear hearing aids. Or they are afraid that they won’t be able to afford them.
It’s easy to recognize, however, that when the negative effect on health and relationships will cost more over time.
Speak with a hearing care expert today about getting a hearing test. And you don’t need to worry that you look old if you end up requiring hearing aids. Hearing aids today are much sleeker and more sophisticated than you may think!