When you were younger, you most likely considered hearing loss a consequence of getting old. Older adults around you were probably wearing hearing aids or struggling to hear.
When you’re young, getting old seems so distant but as time passes you begin to realize that hearing loss is about a lot more than aging.
This is the one thing you should understand: Admitting that you have hearing loss doesn’t mean that you’re old.
Hearing Loss is a Condition That Can Occur at Any Age
By the age of 12, audiologists can already detect some hearing loss in 13% of cases. Obviously, your not “old” when you’re 12. Teenage hearing loss has gone up 33% in the last 30 years.
What’s at work here?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already suffer from debilitating hearing loss.
Aging isn’t the problem. You can 100% prevent what is typically considered “age related hearing loss”. And limiting its progression is well within your power.
Age-related hearing loss, clinically known as sensorineural hearing loss, is most commonly a result of noise.
For generations hearing loss was thought to be inevitable 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
The first step to safeguarding your hearing is recognizing how something as “harmless” as noise results in hearing loss.
Sound is made up of waves. These waves travel into your ear canal. They move down past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Here, little hair cells in your inner ear oscillate. Which hair cells oscillate, and how fast or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But these hairs can vibrate with too much intensity when the inner ear receives sound that is too loud. The sound vibrates them to death.
When these hairs are gone you won’t be able to hear.
Why Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Permanent
If you cut yourself, the wound heals. But when you damage these tiny hair cells, they cannot heal, and they cannot grow back. The more often you’re exposed to loud noise, the more tiny hair cells die.
As they do, hearing loss worsens.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These Common Noises
Many people are shocked to find out that every day activities can lead to hearing loss. These things may seem totally harmless:
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Mowing the lawn
- Running farm equipment
- Using head phones/earbuds
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Playing in a band
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
You can keep doing these things. Luckily, you can lessen noise induced hearing loss by taking some safety measures.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Older
If you’re currently suffering from loss of hearing, acknowledging it doesn’t need to make you feel old. As a matter of fact, you will feel older much sooner if you fail to acknowledge your hearing loss because of complications like:
- Increased Fall Risk
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
- Strained relationships
These are all significantly more common in those with untreated hearing loss.
Prevent Further Hearing Damage
Recognizing how to prevent hearing loss is the first step.
- In order to figure out how loud things actually are, download a sound meter app.
- Find out when volumes become dangerous. In less than 8 hours, permanent damage can be the result of volumes over 85dB. 110 dB takes around 15 minutes to cause lasting hearing loss. 120 dB and above brings about instant hearing loss. A gunshot is between 140 to 170 dB.
- Realize that you’ve already caused permanent hearing damage every time you’ve had a difficult time hearing right after going to a concert. It will become more severe with time.
- Use earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when appropriate.
- When it comes to hearing protection, follow any rules that pertain to your circumstance.
- If you need to be exposed to loud noises, regulate your exposure time.
- Refrain from standing near loudspeakers or turning speakers up at home.
- Some headphones and earbuds have built in volume control for a less dangerous listening experience. They have a 90 dB limit. Most people would have to listen almost non-stop all day to trigger irreversible damage.
- Some medications, low blood oxygen, and even high blood pressure can make you more susceptible at lower volumes. To be safe, you should never listen on headphones at above 50%. Car speakers will vary and a volume meter app can help but regarding headphones, no louder than 50% is best policy.
- If you have a hearing aid, wear it. Not using hearing aids when you require them leads to brain atrophy. It’s a lot like your leg muscles. If you let them go, it will be difficult to get them back.
Get a Hearing Exam
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 minimize further damage.
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-Benefit Comparison of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of people are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they choose to “tough it out”. They don’t want people to think they look old because they wear hearing aids. Or they are afraid that they won’t be able to afford them.
But when they comprehend that hearing loss will get worse faster and can cause numerous health and relationship challenges, it’s easy to see that the pros well outnumber the cons.
Schedule a hearing exam with a hearing specialist. And you don’t need to be concerned that you appear old if you wind up requiring hearing aids. Hearing aids nowadays are much sleeker and more sophisticated than you may think!