As you got older, you probably started to associate hearing loss with getting old. Older adults in your life were probably wearing hearing aids or struggling to hear.
In your youth, getting old seems so distant but as time passes you start to recognize that hearing loss is about far more than aging.
Here is the one thing you should understand: It doesn’t mean that you’re old just because you acknowledge you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Issue”
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”. In the past 30 years, hearing loss in teenagers has risen by 33 %.
What’s the cause of this?
Debilitating hearing loss has already set in for 2% of individuals between the ages of 45 and 55 and 8% of people between the ages of 55 and 64.
It’s not an aging issue. What you probably consider an age-related hearing loss is 100% preventable. And limiting its progression is well within your ability.
Age-associated hearing loss, known medically sensorineural hearing loss, is most frequently a result of noise.
For decades hearing loss was assumed to be unavoidable as you age. But safeguarding and even restoring your hearing is well within the scope of modern science.
How Hearing Loss is Triggered by Noise
Step one to protecting your hearing is understanding how something as “innocuous” as noise causes hearing loss.
Sound is made up of waves. The canal of your ear receives these waves. They reach your inner ear after going past your eardrum.
In your inner ear are very small hair cells that oscillate when sound strikes them. What hair cells oscillate, and how rapidly or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But when the inner ear is exposed to sounds that are too loud, these hair cells vibrate too fast. The sound shakes them to death.
when they’re gone, you won’t be able to hear.
Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Irreversible, Here’s Why
Wounds such as cuts or broken bones will heal. But these little hair cells don’t heal or grow back. The more often you’re exposed to loud sounds, the more tiny hair cells fail.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
every day Noises That Cause Hearing Damage
Many people are surprised to find out that every day activities can lead to hearing loss. These things may seem totally harmless:
- attending a concert/play/movies
- Playing in a band
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Cranking up the car stereo
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Using earbuds/head phones
- Running farm equipment
- Mowing the lawn
You don’t need to quit these things. Thankfully, you can take protective steps to minimize noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Stop 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. Actually, you will feel older a lot sooner if you fail to acknowledge your hearing loss because of complications like:
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Increased Fall Risk
- Social Isolation
- Strained relationships
These are all substantially more common in those with untreated hearing loss.
Ways You Can Prevent Further Hearing Damage
Begin by knowing how to avoid hearing loss.
- Get a sound meter app on your smartphone. Learn how loud things actually are.
- Know about hazardous levels. In under 8 hours, irreversible hearing loss can be the result of volumes over 85dB. Lasting hearing loss, at 110 dB, occurs in over 15 minutes. 120 dB and over brings about instantaneous hearing loss. A gunshot is between 140 to 170 dB.
- Realize that you’ve already triggered irreversible hearing damage each time you’ve had a hard time hearing right after a concert. The more often it occurs, the worse it gets.
- Use earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when necessary.
- Follow work hearing protection rules.
- If you have to be exposed to loud noises, regulate the exposure time.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a poor idea in any setting.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have built in volume control. They never go above 90 dB. Most people would have to listen nearly non-stop all day to cause permanent damage.
- Even at lower volumes, if you are taking some common medications, have high blood pressure, or have low blood oxygen, you’re hearing might still be in peril. Always keep your headphones at 50% or less. Car speakers vary.
- 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’s similar to your leg muscles. If you stop using them, it will be difficult to begin again.
Have a Hearing Exam
Are you in denial or just putting things off? Don’t do it. Be active about reducing further damage by recognizing your circumstance.
Speak with Your Hearing Professional About Hearing Loss Solutions
There aren’t any “natural cures” for hearing loss. If hearing loss is severe, it might be time to invest in a hearing aid.
Do a Cost to Benefit Analysis of Investing in Hearing Aids
Many people who do recognize their hearing loss simply choose to deal with it. They believe that hearing aids make them look old. Or they are afraid that they won’t be able to afford them.
But when they realize that hearing loss will worsen faster and can cause many health and relationship complications, it’s easy to see that the pros well surpass the cons.
Consult a hearing care expert today about getting a hearing exam. And you don’t need to worry that you appear old if you wind up needing hearing aids. Hearing aids at present are much sleeker and more sophisticated than you may think!