When you were younger, you probably considered hearing loss a consequence of getting old. Older adults around you were probably wearing hearing aids or struggling to hear.
When you’re young, getting old seems so far away but as time goes by you start to realize that hearing loss is about much more than aging.
You need to realize this one thing: Acknowledging that you have hearing loss doesn’t mean that you’re old.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Problem”
By the age of 12, audiologists can already identify some hearing loss in 13% of cases. Obviously, your not “old” when you’re 12. In the past 30 years, hearing loss in teenagers has risen by 33 %.
What’s the reason for this?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already suffer from debilitating hearing loss.
Aging isn’t the problem. What you may consider an age-related hearing loss is 100% preventable. And you have the ability to significantly decrease its development.
Noise exposure is the most common cause of age associated or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
For generations hearing loss was believed to be inevitable as you age. But protecting and even restoring your hearing is well within the scope of modern science.
How Noise Causes Hearing Loss
Recognizing how noise causes hearing loss is step one in safeguarding hearing.
Waves are what sound is composed of. The canal of your ear receives these waves. They move past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Inside your inner ear are little hair cells that vibrate when sound hits them. What hair cells oscillate, and how fast or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain can translate this code into words, rushing water, a car horn, a cry or whatever else you might hear.
But when the inner ear receives sounds that are too loud, these hair cells move too quickly. The sound shakes them to death.
When these hairs are gone you won’t be able to hear.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Permanent, Here’s Why
If you cut yourself, the cut heals. But when you impair these tiny hair cells, they don’t heal, and they never regenerate. The more often you’re exposed to loud sounds, the more tiny hair cells die.
Hearing loss gets worse as they do.
Common Noises That Damage Hearing
Many people are shocked to find out that every day activities can cause hearing loss. These things may seem completely harmless:
- Using farm equipment
- Cranking up the car stereo
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Lawn mowing
- Playing in a band
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
You can keep on doing these things. Luckily, you can lessen noise induced hearing loss by taking some safety measures.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Older
If you’re already suffering from hearing loss, acknowledging it doesn’t have to make you feel old. As a matter of fact, you will feel older much sooner if you fail to acknowledge your hearing loss due to complications like:
- Strained relationships
- Increased Fall Risk
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
These are all substantially more prevalent in those with untreated hearing loss.
Prevent Further Hearing Injury
Recognizing how to avoid hearing loss is the first step.
- Download a sound meter app on your phone. Learn how loud things really are.
- Determine when volumes become hazardous. Over 85 dB (decibels) can lead to permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. Irreversible hearing loss, at 110 dB, takes place in about 15 minutes. Instant hearing loss takes place at 120dB or higher. A gunshot is between 140 to 170 dB.
- Understand that you’ve already triggered irreversible hearing damage each time you’ve had a hard time hearing right after a concert. It will become more severe over time.
- When it’s required, wear earmuffs and/or earplugs
- When it comes to hearing protection, follow any guidelines that pertain to your situation.
- If you have to be exposed to loud sounds, restrict your exposure time.
- Steer clear of standing close to loudspeakers or cranking up speakers at home.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have built in volume control. They have a 90 dB limit. Most people would need to listen almost non-stop all day to trigger irreversible damage.
- Some medications, low blood oxygen, and even high blood pressure can make you more vulnerable at lower levels. To be safe, do not listen on headphones at above 50%. Car speakers vary.
- Wear your hearing aid. The brain will begin to atrophy if you don’t wear your hearing aid when you require it. It’s similar to your leg muscles. If you let them go, it will be tough to get them back.
Get a Hearing Examination
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Stop it. You need to acknowledge your hearing loss so that you can be proactive to lessen further damage.
Speak with Your Hearing Professional About Hearing Solutions
There aren’t any “natural cures” for hearing loss. If hearing loss is extreme, it could be time to invest in a hearing aid.
Do a Cost-Benefit Comparison of Investing in Hearing Aids
Many people are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they decide to “tough it out”. They don’t want people to think they look old because they wear hearing aids. Or they assume that they cost too much.
It’s easy to see, however, that when the adverse effect on health and relationships will cost more in the long run.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing specialist. And if hearing aids are advised, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Modern hearing aids are sophisticated and advanced pieces of modern technology.