As you got older, you likely started to associate hearing loss with getting old. You probably had older adults in your life trying to comprehend words or wearing hearing aids.
But just like 30 or 60 only seemed old to you until it fast approached, as you become more aware about hearing loss, you realize that it has less to do with the aging process and much more to do with something else.
This is the one thing you should know: Acknowledging that you have hearing loss doesn’t make you old.
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. In the past 30 years, hearing loss in teenagers has risen by 33 %.
What’s happening here?
Debilitating hearing loss has already developed for 2% of individuals between 45 and 55 and 8% of people between 55 and 64.
It isn’t an aging issue. You can 100% avoid what is generally considered “age related hearing loss”. And reducing its development is well within your power.
Noise exposure is the most prevalent cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
For decades hearing loss was believed to be unavoidable as you age. But safeguarding and even repairing your hearing is well within the grasp of modern science.
How Noise Leads to Hearing Loss
Step one to safeguarding your hearing is understanding how something as “innocuous” as noise results in hearing loss.
Waves are what sound is composed of. These waves go into your ear canal. They move down past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Inside your inner ear are very small hair cells which oscillate when sound hits them. The intensity and speed of these vibrations then encode a mental signal. Your brain is able to convert this code into words, rushing water, a car horn, a cry or whatever else you might hear.
But these hairs can oscillate with too much intensity when the inner ear gets sound that is too loud. This level of sound damages these hairs and they will eventually fail.
When these hairs die you can no longer hear.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Permanent, Here’s Why
If you cut your hand, the wound heals. But when you impair these little hair cells, they cannot heal, and they never regenerate. Over time, as you expose your ears to loud sounds, more and more of these hairs die.
As they do, hearing loss worsens.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Many people are surprised to find out that common activities can lead to hearing loss. You may not think twice about:
- Being a musician
- Using farm equipment
- Lawn mowing
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- attending a concert/play/movies
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
You don’t need to quit these activities. Thankfully, you can take protective measures to limit noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Stop Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Older
Admitting you have hearing loss, if you already suffer from it, doesn’t need to make you feel old. As a matter of fact, you will feel older much sooner if you fail to recognize your hearing loss due to complications like:
- Increased Fall Risk
- Strained relationships
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
These are all considerably more common in those with untreated hearing loss.
Reduce Further Hearing Injury
Begin by learning how to prevent hearing loss.
- Download a sound meter app on your smartphone. Find out how loud things really are.
- Determine when volumes get harmful. In under 8 hours, irreversible damage can be the result of volumes above 85dB. Permanent hearing loss, at 110 dB, happens in about 15 minutes. 120 dB and over causes instant hearing loss. A gunshot is between 140 to 170 dB.
- Know that If you’ve ever had trouble hearing temporarily after going to a concert, you’ve already induced lasting damage to your hearing. It will become more obvious with time.
- When it’s necessary, use earmuffs and/or earplugs
- Respect work hearing protection safeguards.
- Regulate your exposure time to loud sounds.
- Steer clear of standing near loudspeakers or cranking up speakers at home.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have built in volume control. They never go over 90 decibels. At that volume, even nonstop, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for most people.
- Even at lower volumes, if you have low blood oxygen, high blood pressure, or are taking some common medication, you’re hearing may still be in danger. To be safe, do not listen on headphones at above 50%. 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, wear it. Not wearing hearing aids when you need them causes the brain to atrophy. It’s similar to your leg muscles. If you stop utilizing them, it will be hard to start again.
Get a Hearing Exam
Are you in denial or just procrastinating? Stop it. You need to accept your hearing loss so that you can take measures to minimize further harm.
Speak with Your Hearing Specialist About Hearing Solutions
Hearing loss does not have any “natural cure”. It could be time to invest in a hearing aid if your hearing loss is severe.
Compare The Cost of Investing in Hearing Aids to The Advantages
Many individuals are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they choose to “just deal with”. They think hearing aids make them look old. Or they are worried that they won’t be able to afford them.
But when they comprehend that hearing loss will get worse faster and can cause numerous relationship and health challenges, it’s easy to see that the pros well surpass the cons.
Speak with a hearing care expert today about getting a hearing exam. And if hearing aids are suggested, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Present day hearing aids are sophisticated and advanced pieces of modern technology.