When you were younger, you probably considered hearing loss a result of getting old. You probably had older adults in your life trying to understand words or wearing hearing aids.
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 aging and much more to do with something else.
Here is the one thing you should know: Admitting that you have hearing loss doesn’t mean that you’re old.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Issue”
By 12 years old, audiologists can already detect some hearing loss in 13% of cases. You’ll recognize, 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?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already have debilitating hearing loss.
It isn’t an aging issue. You can 100% prevent what is typically considered “age related hearing loss”. And limiting its development is well within your ability.
Noise exposure is the most common cause of age associated or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for decades, considered to be an inescapable part of aging. But protecting and even restoring your hearing is well within the grasp of modern science.
How Hearing Loss is Caused by Noise
Step one to protecting your hearing is learning how something as “harmless” as noise results in hearing loss.
Waves are what sound is composed of. These waves travel into your ear canal. They go past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Here, small hair cells in your inner ear oscillate. 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 whatever else you might hear.
But when the inner ear receives sounds that are too intense, these hair cells move too rapidly. This level of sound destroys these hairs and they will eventually stop working.
When these hairs are gone you can no longer hear.
Why Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Irreversible
Wounds like cuts or broken bones heal. But when you impair these little hair cells, they don’t heal, and they never regenerate. Over time, as you subject your ears to loud noise, more and more of these hairs perish.
Hearing loss gets worse as they do.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Many people are shocked to learn that every day activities can result in hearing loss. These things may seem totally harmless:
- Cranking up the car stereo
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Lawn mowing
- Playing in a band
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Wearing earbuds/head phones
- Using farm equipment
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
You can keep doing these things. Fortunately, you can take proactive actions 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, acknowledging it doesn’t have to make you feel old. Actually, you will feel older much sooner if you fail to acknowledge your hearing loss due to complications like:
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Strained relationships
- Increased Fall Risk
- Social Isolation
These are all considerably more prevalent in people with neglected hearing loss.
Ways You Can Prevent Additional Hearing Damage
Understanding how to stop hearing loss is the starting point.
- So that you can find out how loud things actually are, download a sound meter app.
- Learn when volumes become hazardous. Over 85 dB (decibels) can result in permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. Lasting hearing loss, at 110 dB, happens in about 15 minutes. Instant hearing loss happens at 120dB or higher. 140 to 170 dB is the average level of a gunshot.
- Know that If you’ve ever had difficulty hearing temporarily after a concert, you’ve already induced permanent damage to your hearing. It will become more severe as time passes.
- Use earplugs and/or sound-dampening 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, restrict the exposure time.
- Steer clear of standing near loudspeakers or turning speakers up at home.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have built in volume control. They have a 90 dB upper limit. At that level, even nonstop, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for the majority of individuals.
- Even at lower levels, if you have low blood oxygen, high blood pressure, or are taking some common medication, you’re hearing might still be in danger. Always keep your headphones at 50% or less. Car speakers will vary and a volume meter app will help but regarding headphones, 50% or less is best policy.
- If you have a hearing aid, wear it. The brain will start to atrophy if you don’t use your hearing aid when you require it. It works the same way as the muscles in your body. If you stop using them, it will be hard to begin again.
Schedule an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you in denial or simply putting things off? Stop it. Be proactive about reducing further harm by acknowledging your situation.
Consult Your Hearing Professional About Solutions For Your Hearing.
There aren’t any “natural cures” for hearing loss. If hearing loss is extreme, it could be time to invest in a hearing aid.
Compare The Cost of Investing in Hearing Aids to The Advantages
Many individuals are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they choose to “tough it out”. They believe that hearing aids make them seem old. Or they are worried that they won’t be able to afford them.
But when they recognize that hearing loss will get worse faster and can cause numerous relationship and health challenges, it’s easy to see that the pros well surpass the cons.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing specialist. And if hearing aids are recommended, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Present day hearing aids are sophisticated and advanced pieces of modern technology.