When you were younger, you probably considered hearing loss a consequence of aging. Older adults in your life were probably wearing hearing aids or having a difficult time hearing.
But just like 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 the aging process and much more to do with something else.
This is the one thing you should understand: 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 detect hearing loss by the age of 12. Obviously, your not “old” when you’re 12. Teenage hearing loss has gone up 33% in the last 30 years.
What’s the reason for this?
Disabling hearing loss has already set in for 2% of people between the ages of 45 and 55 and 8% of people between the ages of 55 and 64.
Aging isn’t the issue. What you may consider an age-related hearing loss is 100% preventable. And you have the ability to significantly reduce its progression.
Noise exposure is the most prevalent cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for decades, considered to be an inescapable part of aging. But nowadays, science understands more about how to safeguard your hearing and even repair it.
How Hearing Loss is Triggered by Noise
Understanding how noise results in hearing loss is the first step in protecting hearing.
Sound is composed of waves. The canal of your ear receives these waves. They arrive at your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
Here, little hair cells in your inner ear oscillate. Which hair cells oscillate, and how fast or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain is able to convert this code into words, rushing water, a car horn, a cry or anything else you may hear.
But when the inner ear is exposed to sounds that are too intense, these hair cells oscillate too fast. This level of sound damages these hairs and they will eventually stop working.
When these hairs are gone you won’t be able to hear.
Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Irreversible, Here’s Why
If you cut your hand, the wound heals. But these tiny hair cells don’t heal or 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 Damage Hearing
Many people are shocked to learn that every day activities can result in hearing loss. These things probably seem completely harmless:
- Using farm equipment
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Playing in a band
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Turning up the car stereo
- Using head phones/earbuds
- Lawn mowing
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
You don’t have to give up these things. Luckily, you can reduce noise induced hearing loss by taking some preventative measures.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Old
If you’re already suffering from hearing loss, acknowledging it doesn’t have to make you feel older. The fact is, failing to accept it can doom you to faster development and complications that “will” make you feel much older in only a few years like:
- Increased Fall Risk
- Strained relationships
- Social Isolation
- More frequent trips to the ER
These are all substantially more common in those with untreated hearing loss.
Ways You Can Prevent Further Hearing Damage
Begin by understanding how to avoid hearing loss.
- Get a sound meter app on your phone. Discover how loud things actually are.
- Know about harmful volumes. Over 85 dB (decibels) can result in permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. 110 dB takes around 15 minutes to cause lasting hearing loss. Immediate hearing loss takes place at 120dB or higher. 140 to 170 dB is the average volume of a gunshot.
- Recognize that If you’ve ever had trouble hearing temporarily after a concert, you’ve already caused permanent damage to your hearing. It will become more pronounced over time.
- Use earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when appropriate.
- Respect work hearing protection safeguards.
- Limit your exposure time to loud sounds.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a poor idea in any setting.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have built in volume control. They have a 90 dB limit. Most people would have to listen almost continuously all day to cause permanent damage.
- Even at lower levels, if you have low blood oxygen, high blood pressure, or are taking some common medication, you’re hearing may still be in peril. To be safe, you should never listen on headphones at over 50%. Car speakers will vary and a volume meter app will help but regarding headphones, no louder than 50% is best policy.
- If you have a hearing aid, use it. Not using hearing aids when you require them causes the brain to atrophy. It works the same way as the muscles in your body. If you stop making use of them, it will be difficult to begin again.
Make an Appointment to Have a Hearing Exam
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Don’t do it. Be proactive about reducing further harm by acknowledging your situation.
Consult Your Hearing Professional About Solutions For Your Hearing Loss.
Hearing loss has no “natural cure”. If hearing loss is severe, it may be time to get a hearing aid.
Do a Comparison of The Cost of Getting Hearing Aids to The Advantages
Lots of individuals who do acknowledge their hearing loss simply decide to cope with it. They believe that 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 harmful effect on relationships and health will cost more over time.
Speak with a hearing care professional right away about getting a hearing exam. And if hearing aids are recommended, don’t be concerned about “feeling old”. Hearing aids today are significantly sleeker and more sophisticated than you may believe!