When you were younger, you most likely thought of hearing loss as a result of getting old. You likely had older adults in your life struggling to comprehend words or wearing hearing aids.
When you’re young, getting old seems so distant but as time passes you start to recognize that hearing loss is about far more than aging.
You need to realize this one thing: It doesn’t mean that you’re old just because you admit you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an Ailment That Can Happen at Any Age
By 12 years old, audiologists can already identify some hearing loss in 13% of cases. You’ll recognize, this isn’t because 12-year-olds are “old”. In the last 30 years, hearing loss in teenagers has increased by 33 %.
What’s the reason for this?
Disabling hearing loss has already developed for 2% of people between the ages of 45 and 55 and 8% of people between 55 and 64.
Aging isn’t the issue. What you may consider an age-related hearing loss is 100% preventable. And decreasing its development is well within your power.
Noise exposure is the most prevalent cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for many years, assumed to be an inevitable part of aging. But protecting 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 the first step in protecting hearing.
Waves are what sound is composed of. The canal of your ear receives these waves. They arrive at your inner ear after going past your eardrum.
Inside your inner ear are very small hair cells which vibrate when sound impacts them. Which hair cells oscillate, and how rapidly or frequently they vibrate, becomes a signal in the brain. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But these hairs can move with too much force when the inner ear gets sound that is too intense. This level of sound destroys these hairs and they will eventually fail.
When these hairs die you won’t be able to hear.
Why Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Permanent
Wounds like cuts or broken bones heal. But these tiny hair cells won’t grow back or heal. Over time, as you subject your ears to loud noise, more and more of these hairs perish.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
every day Noises That Damage Hearing
Most people don’t recognize that hearing loss can be caused by every day noises. You might not think twice about:
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Using earbuds/head phones
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- attending a concert/play/movies
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Cranking up the car stereo
- Lawn mowing
- Using farm equipment
- Being a musician
You can keep doing these things. 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 have to make you feel old. As a matter of fact, failing to acknowledge it can doom you to faster development and complications that “will” make you feel a lot older in only a few years like:
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
- Strained relationships
- Increased Fall Risk
For individuals with untreated hearing loss these are substantially more common.
Ways You Can Avoid Further Hearing Damage
Learning how to prevent hearing loss is the first step.
- In order to figure out how loud things actually are, download a sound meter app.
- Learn when volumes get harmful. In under 8 hours, irreversible damage can be caused by volumes over 85dB. Permanent hearing loss, at 110 dB, takes place in about 15 minutes. 120 dB and over brings about instantaneous hearing loss. A gunshot is between 140 to 170 dB.
- Understand that you’ve already triggered irreversible hearing damage every time you’ve had a difficult time hearing right after going to a concert. The more often it occurs, the worse it will become.
- When it’s needed, use earmuffs and/or earplugs
- When dealing with hearing protection, implement any guidelines that apply to your circumstance.
- If you have to be exposed to loud noises, restrict your exposure time.
- Avoid standing near loudspeakers or cranking up speakers at home.
- Some headphones and earbuds have on-board volume control for a safer listening experience. They never go over 90 dB. Most people would have to listen nearly continuously all day to cause permanent damage.
- High blood pressure, low blood oxygen, and some medications can make you more vulnerable at lower volumes. Always keep your headphones at 50% or less. Car speakers vary.
- Wear your hearing aid. Not using 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.
Make an Appointment to Have a Hearing Exam
Are you putting things off or in denial? Don’t do it. Be active about reducing further damage by recognizing your situation.
Speak with Your Hearing Specialist About Hearing Loss Solutions
There are no “natural cures” for hearing impairment. If hearing loss is extreme, it may be time to get a hearing aid.
Do a Cost to 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 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 harmful effect on relationships and health will cost more in the long run.
Schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional. And if hearing aids are advised, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Hearing aids nowadays are much sleeker and more advanced than you may think!