Growing up into adulthood, you probably began to associate hearing loss with getting old. Older adults in your life were probably wearing hearing aids or having a difficult time hearing.
In your youth, getting old seems so far away but as time goes by you start to recognize that hearing loss is about much more than aging.
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 Problem”
By 12 years old, audiologists can already identify some hearing loss in 13% of cases. You’ll recognize, this isn’t because a 12 year old is “old”. In the last 30 years, hearing loss in teenagers has increased by 33 %.
What’s at work 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. You can 100% prevent what is generally thought of as “age related hearing loss”. And you have the power to significantly decrease its progression.
Age-associated hearing loss, medically known as sensorineural hearing loss, is most commonly caused by noise.
For decades hearing loss was believed to be inescapable as you get older. But these days, science understands more about how to safeguard your hearing and even repair it.
How Noise Causes Hearing Loss
Recognizing how noise causes hearing loss is the first step in protecting hearing.
Waves are what sound is made of. Your ear canal receives these waves. They progress past your eardrum into your inner ear.
In your inner ear are tiny hair cells which vibrate when sound impacts them. The intensity and speed of these vibrations will then encode a neurological signal. Your brain then converts this code into sound.
But when the inner ear is exposed to sounds that are too loud, these hair cells vibrate too fast. This level of sound destroys these hairs and they will eventually die.
Without them, you won’t be able to hear.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Permanent, Here’s Why
If you cut your hand, the wound heals. But these tiny hair cells don’t heal or grow back. Over time, as you expose your ears to loud sounds, more and more of these hairs perish.
As they do, hearing loss worsens.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Many people are surprised to learn that every day activities can cause hearing loss. These things may seem totally harmless:
- attending a movie/play/concert
- Mowing the lawn
- Using farm equipment
- Using head phones/earbuds
- Playing in a band
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
- Turning the car stereo way up
You don’t have to quit these things. Luckily, you can minimize noise induced hearing loss by taking some preventative measures.
How to Stop Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Older
If you’re already suffering from hearing loss, admitting it doesn’t have to make you feel older. As a matter of fact, you will feel older much sooner if you fail to acknowledge your hearing loss because of complications like:
- Strained relationships
- Social Isolation
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Increased Fall Risk
These are all significantly more common in people with neglected hearing loss.
Ways You Can Prevent Further Hearing Problems
Get started by knowing how to prevent hearing loss.
- Get a sound meter app on your phone. Discover how loud things actually are.
- Determine when volumes get hazardous. Above 85 dB (decibels) can cause irreversible hearing loss in 8 hours. 110 dB takes around 15 minutes to trigger permanent hearing loss. Instant hearing loss takes place at 120dB or higher. A gunshot is between 140 to 170 dB.
- Recognize that If you’ve ever had difficulty hearing temporarily after going to a concert, you’ve already generated lasting harm to your hearing. The more often it happens, the worse it gets.
- When it’s required, use earplugs or earmuffs.
- When dealing with hearing protection, implement any rules that apply to your situation.
- If you have to be exposed to loud noises, regulate the exposure time.
- Steer clear of standing close to loudspeakers or turning speakers up at home.
- Some headphones and earbuds have on-board volume control for a safer listening experience. They never go over 90 decibels. At that level, even nonstop, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for most people.
- Even at lower levels, if you are taking some common medications, have high blood pressure, or have low blood oxygen, you’re hearing could still be in danger. To be safe, do not listen on headphones at above 50%. Car speakers vary.
- Use your hearing aid. The brain will start to atrophy if you don’t use your hearing aid when you need it. It’s similar to your leg muscles. If you stop making use of them, it will be hard to begin again.
Schedule an Appointment to Have a Hearing Exam
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Don’t do it. Be proactive about reducing further harm by acknowledging your situation.
Talk to Your Hearing Specialist About Hearing Solutions
There aren’t any “natural cures” for hearing impairment. 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 people who do recognize their hearing loss just choose to cope with it. 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.
But when they recognize that hearing loss will worsen faster and can cause many health and relationship challenges, it’s easy to recognize that the pros well outweigh the cons.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing specialist. And if hearing aids are recommended, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Hearing aids today are significantly sleeker and more advanced than you may believe!