When you were younger, you probably considered hearing loss a consequence of aging. You likely had older adults around you struggling to understand words or wearing hearing aids.
But in the same way as 30 or 60 only seemed old to you until it fast approached, as you learn more about hearing loss, you find it has less to do with the aging process and much more to do with something else.
This is the one thing you should know: It doesn’t make you old just because you acknowledge you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is a Condition That Can Happen at Any Age
By the age of 12, audiologists can already identify some hearing loss in 13% of cases. Needless to say, you aren’t “old” when you’re 12. In the last 30 years, hearing loss in 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.
Aging isn’t the problem. What you probably think of as age-related hearing loss is 100% avoidable. And you have the ability to dramatically decrease its development.
Noise exposure is the most prevalent cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
For generations hearing loss was assumed to be inescapable as you get older. But safeguarding and even restoring your hearing is well within the grasp of modern science.
How Hearing Loss is Caused by Noise
Learning how noise results in hearing loss is the first step in protecting hearing.
Waves are what sound is made of. These waves go into your ear canal. They reach your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
Here, small hair cells in your inner ear vibrate. The speed and intensity of these vibrations then encode a neurological signal. Your brain is able to convert this code into words, running water, a car horn, a cry or anything else you might hear.
But when the inner ear is exposed to sounds that are too loud, these hair cells oscillate too quickly. The sound shakes them to death.
when they’re gone, you won’t be able to hear.
Why Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Permanent
If you cut your hand, the cut heals. 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.
As they do, hearing loss progresses.
Common Noises That Cause Hearing Damage
Most people don’t know that hearing loss can be caused by noise we hear every day. These things might seem totally harmless:
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Going to a concert/play/movies
- Playing in a band
- Using farm equipment
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Lawn mowing
- Cranking up the car stereo
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
You can keep on doing these things. Luckily, you can lessen noise induced hearing loss by taking some preventative measures.
How to Make Sure You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
Admitting 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:
- Strained relationships
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Increased Fall Risk
- Social Isolation
For individuals with neglected hearing loss these are much more common.
Ways You Can Avoid Further Hearing Damage
Learning how to stop hearing loss is the starting point.
- Download a sound meter app on your phone. Discover how loud things really are.
- Learn when volumes get hazardous. In under 8 hours, permanent damage can be caused by volumes over 85dB. 110 dB takes about 15 minutes to cause permanent hearing loss. Immediate hearing loss happens at 120dB or higher. A gunshot is between 140 to 170 dB.
- Recognize that If you’ve ever had trouble hearing temporarily after a concert, you’ve already caused lasting harm to your hearing. It will become more obvious with time.
- Use earplugs and/or sound-dampening earmuffs when appropriate.
- When it comes to hearing protection, implement any rules that apply to your situation.
- If you need to be exposed to loud sounds, restrict your exposure time.
- Steer clear of standing near loudspeakers or cranking up speakers at home.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have built in volume control. They have a 90 dB upper limit. At that level, even constant, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for most individuals.
- High blood pressure, low blood oxygen, and some medications can make you more vulnerable at lower levels. Always keep your headphones at 50% or less. Car speakers will vary and a volume meter app can help but when it comes to headphones, 50% or less is best policy.
- Use your hearing aid. Not using hearing aids when you need them causes the brain to atrophy. It’s a lot like your leg muscles. If you let them go, it will be tough to get them back.
Schedule an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you in denial or simply procrastinating? Stop it. Be proactive about reducing further harm by acknowledging your situation.
Talk to Your Hearing Specialist About Hearing Solutions
There are no “natural cures” for hearing loss. It may be time to get a hearing aid if your hearing loss is severe.
Do a Comparison of The Cost of Buying Hearing Aids to The Benefits
Lots of individuals are either in denial about hearing loss, or they decide to “just deal with”. They believe that hearing aids make them seem old. Or they are worried that they won’t be able to afford them.
But when they comprehend that hearing loss will get worse faster and can cause numerous relationship and health challenges, it’s easy to recognize that the pros well outweigh the cons.
Consult a hearing care expert right away about having a hearing exam. And if hearing aids are advised, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Modern hearing aids are stylish and state-of-the-art pieces of modern technology.