As you got older, you likely started to connect hearing loss with aging. You likely had older adults in your life trying to understand words or wearing hearing aids.
In your youth, getting old seems so distant but as time goes by you start to recognize that hearing loss is about a lot 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 Issue”
By the age of 12, audiologists can already identify some hearing loss in 13% of cases. Needless to say, you aren’t “old” when you’re 12. Teenage hearing loss has risen 33% in the past 30 years.
What’s at work here?
Debilitating hearing loss has already developed for 2% of people between the ages of 45 and 55 and 8% of people between the ages of 55 and 64.
It isn’t an aging issue. You can 100% prevent what is typically thought of as “age related hearing loss”. And limiting its progression is well within your ability.
Age-associated hearing loss, medically known as sensorineural hearing loss, is usually caused by noise.
For generations hearing loss was believed to be unavoidable as you get older. But today, science knows more about how to protect your hearing and even repair it.
How Noise Causes Hearing Loss
Recognizing how noise causes hearing loss is step one in protecting hearing.
Waves are what sound is composed of. The canal of your ear receives these waves. They reach your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
In your inner ear are small hair cells that oscillate when sound strikes them. What hair cells vibrate, and how fast or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain can convert this code into words, running water, a car horn, a cry or anything else you might hear.
But these hairs can vibrate with too much intensity when the inner ear gets sound that is too intense. The sound vibrates them to death.
When these hairs die you can no longer hear.
Why Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Irreversible
Wounds such as cuts or broken bones will heal. But when you damage these tiny hair cells, they cannot heal, and they never grow back. The more often you’re subjected to loud sounds, the more tiny hair cells die.
Hearing loss gets worse as they do.
every day Noises That Damage Hearing
Most people don’t realize that hearing loss can be caused by every day noises. These things might seem perfectly harmless:
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Being a musician
- Using earbuds/head phones
- Lawn mowing
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Running farm equipment
- Going to a noisy workplace
You can keep doing these things. Thankfully, you can take protective actions to minimize noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Stop Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Older
If you’re currently suffering from loss of hearing, admitting it doesn’t have 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:
- Strained relationships
- Increased Fall Risk
- Social Isolation
- More frequent trips to the ER
These are all substantially more prevalent in those with untreated hearing loss.
Ways You Can Avoid Further Hearing Problems
Start by learning how to prevent hearing loss.
- So that you can find out how loud things really are, get a sound meter app.
- Know about dangerous levels. Above 85 dB (decibels) can lead to permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. 110 dB takes about 15 minutes to cause irreversible hearing loss. Immediate hearing loss takes place at 120dB or higher. A gunshot is between 140 to 170 dB.
- Know that If you’ve ever had trouble hearing for a while after going to a concert, you’ve already caused permanent damage to your hearing. The more often it occurs, the worse it gets.
- Use earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when necessary.
- When dealing with hearing protection, adhere to any guidelines that apply to your situation.
- Reduce your exposure time to loud noises.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a poor idea in any situation.
- Some headphones and earbuds have built in volume control for a safer listening experience. They never go above 90 decibels. Most people would need to listen nearly non-stop all day to trigger permanent damage.
- High blood pressure, low blood oxygen, and some medications can make you more susceptible at lower volumes. To be safe, you should never listen on headphones at above 50%. Car speakers vary.
- If you have a hearing aid, wear it. The brain will start to atrophy if you don’t wear your hearing aid when you need it. It works the same as the muscles in your body. If you let them go, it will be difficult to get them back.
Schedule an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Stop it. You have to acknowledge your hearing loss so that you will be proactive to reduce further damage.
Speak with Your Hearing Professional About Hearing Loss Solutions
Hearing loss does not have any “natural cure”. It could be time to get a hearing aid if your hearing loss is extreme.
Do a Cost-Benefit Comparison of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of people who do acknowledge their hearing loss simply choose to cope with it. They think hearing aids make them seem old. Or they are concerned that they won’t be able to afford them.
It’s easy to see, however, that when the harmful effect on health and relationships will cost more in the long run.
Talk to a hearing care expert right away about having a hearing exam. And if hearing aids are advised, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Hearing aids nowadays are a lot sleeker and more sophisticated than you may believe!