Growing up into adulthood, you probably began to connect hearing loss with aging. Older adults around you were probably wearing hearing aids or struggling to hear.
But in the same way as 30 or 60 only seemed old to you until it fast approached, as you learn more about hearing loss, you find it has less to do with getting old and much more to do with something else.
You need to understand this one thing: Admitting that you have hearing loss doesn’t make you old.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Problem”
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already see hearing loss by the age of 12. You’ll agree, this isn’t because 12-year-olds are “old”. Teen hearing loss has risen 33% in the past 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 55 and 64.
Aging isn’t the issue. You can 100% prevent what is normally considered “age related hearing loss”. And decreasing its progression is well within your power.
Age-associated hearing loss, scientifically known as sensorineural hearing loss, is most commonly caused by noise.
Hearing loss was, for many years, considered to be an inevitable part of aging. But these days, science understands more about how to safeguard your hearing and even restore it.
How Hearing Loss is Caused by Noise
The first step to protecting your hearing is learning how something as “innocuous” as noise causes hearing loss.
Sound is composed of waves. The canal of your ear receives these waves. They reach your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
In your inner ear are very small hair cells which oscillate when sound hits them. Which hair cells oscillate, and how fast or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But when the inner ear is exposed to sounds that are too loud, these hair cells move too quickly. The sound shakes them to death.
When these hairs die you can no longer hear.
Why Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Irreversible
Wounds like cuts or broken bones will heal. But when you damage these little hair cells, they cannot heal, and they never regenerate. Over time, as you expose your ears to loud noise, more and more of these hairs perish.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
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:
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- Mowing the lawn
- Going to a concert/play/movies
- Cranking up the car stereo
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Running farm equipment
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Being a musician
You don’t need to give up these activities. Luckily, you can minimize noise induced hearing loss by taking some safety 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 have to make you feel old. In fact, failing to accept it can doom you to faster progression and complications that “will” make you feel much older in only a few years like:
- Increased Fall Risk
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
- Strained relationships
For individuals with untreated hearing loss these are substantially more prevalent.
Ways You Can Avoid Additional Hearing Damage
Get started by knowing how to avoid hearing loss.
- So that you can find out how loud things really are, get a sound meter app.
- Know about harmful levels. In under 8 hours, irreversible damage can be caused by volumes over 85dB. 110 dB takes around 15 minutes to trigger irreversible hearing loss. Immediate hearing loss occurs at 120dB or higher. A gunshot is between 140 to 170 dB.
- Understand that you’ve already caused irreversible hearing damage each time you’ve had a difficult time hearing right after going to a concert. The more often it happens, the worse it gets.
- When it’s necessary, wear earmuffs and/or earplugs
- When it comes to hearing protection, implement any safeguards that apply to your situation.
- If you need to be exposed to loud noises, limit the exposure time.
- Avoid standing close to loudspeakers or cranking up speakers at home.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have integrated volume control. They never go over 90 dB. Most people would have to listen nearly continuously all day to cause permanent damage.
- High blood pressure, low blood oxygen, and some medications can make you more vulnerable at lower volumes. Always keep your headphones at 50% or less. Car speakers vary.
- If you have a hearing aid, use it. The brain will begin to atrophy if you don’t wear your hearing aid when you need it. It works the same way as the muscles in your body. If you stop utilizing them, it will be hard to begin again.
Have a Hearing Test
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Don’t do it. You need to accept your hearing loss so that you will be proactive to lessen further damage.
Talk to Your Hearing Professional About Hearing Solutions
There aren’t any “natural cures” for hearing impairment. If hearing loss is extreme, it might be time to get a hearing aid.
Compare The Cost of Getting Hearing Aids to The Benefits
Lots of people are either in denial about 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.
It’s easy to see, however, that when the negative effect on health and relationships will cost more over time.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing professional. And you don’t need to worry that you look old if you wind up needing hearing aids. Hearing aids today are significantly sleeker and more sophisticated than you may believe!