When you were younger, you probably considered hearing loss a consequence of 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 fast approached, as you become more aware about hearing loss, you find it has less to do with the aging process and much more to do with something else.
You need to understand this one thing: It doesn’t make you old just because you acknowledge you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Problem”
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already detect hearing loss by age 12. Clearly, you aren’t “old” when you’re 12. In the last 30 years, hearing loss in teenagers has increased by 33 %.
What’s at work here?
Debilitating hearing loss has already set in for 2% of individuals between 45 and 55 and 8% of people between the ages of 55 and 64.
Aging isn’t the problem. What you probably consider an age-related hearing loss is 100% avoidable. And decreasing its development is well within your power.
Age-associated hearing loss, known medically sensorineural hearing loss, is most commonly a result of noise.
Hearing loss was, for years, assumed to be an unavoidable part of aging. But safeguarding and even restoring your hearing is well within the grasp of modern science.
How Hearing Loss is Triggered by Noise
The first step to protecting your hearing is recognizing how something as “harmless” as noise results in hearing loss.
Waves are what sound is made of. These waves travel into your ear canal. They reach your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
Here, tiny hair cells in your inner ear oscillate. The intensity and speed of these vibrations then encode a neurological signal. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But when the inner ear is exposed to sounds that are too loud, these hair cells vibrate too fast. The sound vibrates them to death.
When these hairs are gone you won’t be able to hear.
Why Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Irreversible
If you cut your hand, the cut heals. But these little hair cells won’t grow back or heal. The more often you’re exposed to loud noise, the more tiny hair cells fail.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
every day Noises That Damage Hearing
Most people don’t realize that hearing loss can be caused by noise we hear every day. These things might seem totally harmless:
- Mowing the lawn
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- attending a movie/play/concert
- Playing in a band
- Running farm equipment
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
- Wearing earbuds/head phones
You don’t have to give up these activities. Luckily, you can take proactive steps to limit noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Older
If you’re already suffering from loss of hearing, admitting it doesn’t need to make you feel older. As a matter of fact, you will feel older a lot sooner if you fail to recognize your hearing loss due to complications like:
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
- Strained relationships
- Increased Fall Risk
For people with neglected hearing loss these are a lot more common.
Prevent Further Hearing Damage
Understanding how to stop hearing loss is the starting point.
- In order to find out how loud things actually are, download a sound meter app.
- Find out when volumes become hazardous. Over 85 dB (decibels) can lead to irreversible hearing loss in 8 hours. Irreversible hearing loss, at 110 dB, occurs in about 15 minutes. Instant hearing loss happens at 120dB or higher. A gunshot is 140 to 170 dB.
- Realize that you’ve already triggered permanent hearing damage each time you’ve had a difficult time hearing right after a concert. The more often it happens, the worse it gets.
- Wear earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when necessary.
- When dealing with hearing protection, implement any rules that apply to your circumstance.
- If you need to be exposed to loud noises, regulate the exposure time.
- 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 upper limit. Most people would need to listen almost non-stop all day to trigger irreversible damage.
- Even at lower levels, if you are taking some common medications, have high blood pressure, or have low blood oxygen, you’re hearing may still be in danger. To be safe, do not listen on headphones at above 50%. Car speakers will vary and a volume meter app can help but regarding headphones, no louder than 50% is best policy.
- If you have a hearing aid, use it. The brain will begin to atrophy if you don’t use your hearing aid when you need it. It works the same as your muscles. If you stop utilizing them, it will be hard to start again.
Get a Hearing Exam
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Stop it. Be proactive about reducing further harm by recognizing your circumstance.
Consult With Your Hearing Specialist About Solutions For Your Hearing.
Hearing impairment 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 are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they choose to “tough it out”. They don’t want people to think they are old because they wear hearing aids. Or they think they cost too much.
But when they realize that hearing loss will worsen faster and can cause many health and relationship complications, it’s easy to recognize that the pros well surpass the cons.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing professional. And if hearing aids are suggested, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Todays hearing aids are sophisticated and state-of-the-art pieces of modern technology.