When you were younger, you most likely considered hearing loss a result of aging. You likely had older adults around you struggling 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 aging and much more to do with something else.
Here is the one thing you should know: It doesn’t make you old just because you acknowledge you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Issue”
By 12 years old, audiologists can already detect some hearing loss in 13% of cases. Obviously, your not “old” when you’re 12. In the last 30 years, hearing loss in teenagers has risen by 33 %.
What’s at work here?
Debilitating hearing loss has already developed for 2% of individuals between 45 and 55 and 8% of people between the ages of 55 and 64.
It isn’t an aging issue. You can 100% avoid what is normally thought of as “age related hearing loss”. And decreasing its progression is well within your power.
Age-related hearing loss, known medically sensorineural hearing loss, is typically caused by noise.
For decades hearing loss was assumed to be unavoidable as you age. But these days, science understands more about how to safeguard your hearing and even restore it.
How Noise Leads to Hearing Loss
Learning how noise causes hearing loss is step one in safeguarding hearing.
Sound is made up of waves. Your ear canal receives these waves. They reach your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
Here, small hair cells in your inner ear oscillate. The intensity and speed of these vibrations then encode a neurological signal. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But when the inner ear is exposed to sounds that are too loud, these hair cells move too rapidly. This level of sound damages these hairs and they will eventually die.
Without them, you won’t be able to hear.
Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Permanent, Here’s Why
If you cut yourself, the cut heals. But when you impair these tiny hair cells, they don’t heal, and they cannot regenerate. Over time, as you subject your ears to loud sounds, more and more of these hairs die.
As they do, hearing loss progresses.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These Common Noises
Most people don’t recognize that hearing loss can be caused by every day noises. These things probably seem completely harmless:
- Being a musician
- Turning up the car stereo
- Running farm equipment
- Mowing the lawn
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
- Using head phones/earbuds
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Going to a movie/play/concert
You don’t need to give up these things. Luckily, you can decrease noise induced hearing loss by taking some safety measures.
How to be Certain That You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
If you’re already suffering from loss of hearing, admitting it doesn’t need to make you feel older. In fact, failing to accept it can doom you to faster progression and complications that “will” make you feel a lot older in just a few years like:
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
- Strained relationships
- Increased Fall Risk
For people with untreated hearing loss these are a lot more common.
Ways You Can Prevent Further Hearing Problems
Begin by learning how to prevent hearing loss.
- In order to find out how loud things really are, get a sound meter app.
- Learn when volumes get hazardous. In less than 8 hours, permanent damage can be caused by volumes above 85dB. 110 dB takes around 15 minutes to cause permanent hearing loss. Instant hearing loss occurs at 120dB or higher. 140 to 170 dB is the average volume of a gunshot.
- Recognize that If you’ve ever had difficulty hearing for a while after going to a concert, you’ve already caused permanent harm to your hearing. The more often it occurs, the worse it will become.
- When it’s needed, use earplugs or earmuffs.
- Implement work hearing protection safeguards.
- Reduce your exposure time to loud noises.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a poor idea in any setting.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have integrated volume control. They never go over 90 decibels. At that volume, even nonstop, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for most individuals.
- High blood pressure, low blood oxygen, and some medications can make you more susceptible at lower volumes. Always keep your headphones at 50% or less. Car speakers will fluctuate and a volume meter app will help but regarding headphones, 50% or less is best policy.
- If you have a hearing aid, use it. The brain will start to atrophy if you don’t use your hearing aid when you require it. It’s a lot like your leg muscles. If you let them go, it will be hard to get them back.
Have a Hearing Test
Are you in denial or just procrastinating? Don’t do it. You need to accept your hearing loss so that you will take measures to lessen further damage.
Consult With Your Hearing Specialist About Solutions For Your Hearing Loss.
Hearing impairment has no “natural cure”. It might be time to invest in a hearing aid if your hearing loss is severe.
Do a Cost to Benefit Comparison of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of individuals are either in denial about 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 afraid that they won’t be able to afford them.
But when they comprehend that hearing loss will worsen faster and can cause numerous health and relationship challenges, it’s easy to see that the pros well surpass the cons.
Talk to a hearing care professional right away about having a hearing test. And you don’t have to worry that you appear old if you end up needing hearing aids. Hearing aids today are significantly sleeker and more advanced than you may believe!