As you got older, you likely began to connect hearing loss with getting old. Older adults in your life were probably wearing hearing aids or struggling to hear.
But just like 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.
You need to understand this one thing: It doesn’t mean that you’re old just because you acknowledge you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an Ailment That Can Take Place at Any Age
By 12 years old, audiologists can already detect some hearing loss in 13% of cases. You’ll recognize, this isn’t because a 12 year old is “old”. Teenage hearing loss has risen 33% in the last 30 years.
What’s the cause of this?
Disabling 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’s not an aging issue. What you probably think of as age-related hearing loss is 100% preventable. And you have the ability to dramatically decrease its progression.
Noise exposure is the typical cause of age associated or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for many years, assumed to be an unavoidable part of aging. But these days, science knows more about how to protect your hearing and even repair it.
How Noise Causes Hearing Loss
Learning how noise causes hearing loss is the first step in safeguarding hearing.
Waves are what sound is composed of. The canal of your ear receives these waves. They progress down past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Here, little hair cells in your inner ear oscillate. The speed and intensity of these vibrations will then encode a neurological signal. Your brain is able to translate this code into words, running water, a car horn, a cry or anything else you may hear.
But when the inner ear is exposed to sounds that are too loud, these hair cells move too quickly. This level of sound destroys these hairs and they will eventually die.
Without them, you can’t hear.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Irreversible, Here’s Why
Wounds like cuts or broken bones heal. But when you damage these tiny hair cells, they don’t heal, and they never grow back. The more often you’re exposed to loud noise, the more little hair cells fail.
As they do, hearing loss progresses.
every day Noises That Cause Hearing Damage
Most people don’t recognize that hearing loss can be caused by noise we hear every day. These things may seem perfectly harmless:
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Wearing earbuds/head phones
- Playing in a band
- attending a movie/play/concert
- Mowing the lawn
- Running farm equipment
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
You can keep on doing these things. Luckily, you can minimize noise induced hearing loss by taking some preventative measures.
How to Make Sure You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
Admitting you have hearing loss, if you already suffer from it, doesn’t need to make you feel old. The truth is, failing to accept it can doom you to faster advancement and complications that “will” make you feel much older in only a few years like:
- Strained relationships
- Social Isolation
- Increased Fall Risk
- More frequent trips to the ER
For people with untreated hearing loss these are much more common.
Prevent Further Hearing Damage
Recognizing how to avoid hearing loss is the starting point.
- Get a sound meter app on your mobile device. Discover how loud things really are.
- Learn about dangerous volumes. Above 85 dB (decibels) can result in irreversible hearing loss in 8 hours. 110 dB takes around 15 minutes to trigger permanent hearing loss. 120 dB and over causes immediate hearing loss. A gunshot is 140 to 170 dB.
- Recognize that If you’ve ever had difficulty hearing temporarily after a concert, you’ve already induced lasting damage to your hearing. The more often it happens, the worse it will become.
- When it’s needed, use earmuffs and/or earplugs
- Follow work hearing protection rules.
- If you need to be exposed to loud sounds, restrict your exposure time.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a poor idea in any setting.
- 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 the majority of people.
- Even at lower levels, if you have low blood oxygen, high blood pressure, or are taking some common medication, you’re hearing might still be in danger. Always keep your headphones at or below 50%. Car speakers vary.
- If you have a hearing aid, wear it. The brain will start to atrophy if you don’t use your hearing aid when you require it. It works the same as your muscles. If you stop using them, it will be difficult to begin again.
Make an Appointment to Have a Hearing Exam
Are you putting things off or in denial? Stop it. Be proactive about reducing further damage by acknowledging your circumstance.
Consult Your Hearing Professional About Solutions For Your Hearing.
Hearing loss has no “natural cure”. If hearing loss is extreme, it might be time to invest in a hearing aid.
Do a Comparison of The Cost of Getting Hearing Aids to The Advantages
Lots of people who do acknowledge their hearing loss simply decide to cope with it. They think hearing aids make them look old. Or they assume they cost too much.
It’s easy to recognize, however, that when the negative effect on health and relationships will cost more over time.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing specialist. And you don’t have to worry that you appear old if you wind up needing hearing aids. Hearing aids today are much sleeker and more advanced than you may believe!