Growing up into adulthood, you likely started to associate hearing loss with getting old. You likely had older adults around you struggling to understand words or wearing hearing aids.
In your youth, getting old seems so far away but as time passes you begin to realize that hearing loss is about a lot more than aging.
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 a Condition That Can Occur at Any Age
By the age of 12, audiologists can already identify some hearing loss in 13% of cases. You’ll agree, this isn’t because 12-year-olds are “old”. In the past 30 years, hearing loss in teenagers has risen by 33 %.
What’s at work here?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already suffer from disabling hearing loss.
Aging isn’t the problem. What you may consider an age-related hearing loss is 100% preventable. And limiting its development is well within your power.
Noise exposure is the typical cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
For generations hearing loss was believed to be inevitable as you get older. But nowadays, science knows more about how to protect your hearing and even restore it.
How Noise Leads to Hearing Loss
The first step to protecting your hearing is understanding how something as “harmless” as noise causes hearing loss.
Sound is composed of waves. These waves go into your ear canal. They arrive at your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
Here, tiny hair cells in your inner ear vibrate. The speed and intensity of these vibrations then encode a mental signal. 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 move with too much intensity when the inner ear receives sound that is too loud. The sound shakes them to death.
When these hairs die you can no longer hear.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Permanent, Here’s Why
If you cut yourself, the cut heals. But these little hair cells don’t heal or grow back. Over time, as you expose your ears to loud noise, more and more of these hairs die.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These Common Noises
Most people don’t know that hearing loss can be caused by noise we hear every day. These things might seem totally harmless:
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Turning up the car stereo
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Mowing the lawn
- attending a concert/play/movies
- Using head phones/earbuds
- Using farm equipment
- Playing in a band
You don’t need to give up these activities. Thankfully, you can take proactive steps to minimize noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Make Sure You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
If you’re already suffering from loss of hearing, acknowledging it doesn’t need to make you feel older. Actually, you will feel older much sooner if you fail to recognize your hearing loss because of complications like:
- Increased Fall Risk
- Strained relationships
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
These are all considerably more prevalent in people with neglected hearing loss.
Ways You Can Avoid Further Hearing Problems
Get started by knowing how to avoid hearing loss.
- So that you can find out how loud things really are, download a sound meter app.
- Know about hazardous volumes. Over 85 dB (decibels) can cause permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. Lasting hearing loss, at 110 dB, happens in about 15 minutes. Immediate hearing loss happens at 120dB or higher. 140 to 170 dB is the average volume of a gunshot.
- Know that If you’ve ever had difficulty hearing temporarily after a concert, you’ve already induced lasting damage to your hearing. It will become more pronounced over time.
- When it’s needed, wear earplugs or earmuffs.
- When dealing with hearing protection, adhere to any guidelines that pertain to your situation.
- If you have to be exposed to loud noises, restrict the exposure time.
- Avoid standing close to loudspeakers or cranking up speakers at home.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have built in volume control. They never go above 90 decibels. At that level, even constant, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for the majority of individuals.
- Even at lower volumes, if you have low blood oxygen, high blood pressure, or are taking some common medication, you’re hearing might still be in peril. To be safe, never listen on headphones at above 50%. Car speakers vary.
- If you have a hearing aid, wear it. Not using hearing aids when you require them results in brain atrophy. It’s similar to your leg muscles. If you let them go, it will be difficult to get them back.
Have a Hearing Test
Are you putting things off or in denial? Don’t do it. Be active about reducing further harm by recognizing your circumstance.
Consult Your Hearing Specialist About Solutions For Your Hearing.
Hearing impairment has no “natural cure”. It could be time to get a hearing aid if your hearing loss is extreme.
Do a Cost-Benefit Analysis of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of people are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they choose to “just deal with”. They believe that hearing aids make them look old. Or they assume they cost too much.
But when they comprehend that hearing loss will worsen faster and can cause many relationship and health complications, it’s easy to see that the pros well outweigh the cons.
Talk to a hearing care expert right away about having a hearing exam. And if hearing aids are recommended, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Present day hearing aids are sophisticated and state-of-the-art pieces of modern technology.