When you were younger, you probably thought of hearing loss as a result of getting old. You likely had older adults in your life struggling to comprehend words or wearing hearing aids.
When you’re young, getting old seems so distant but as time goes by you start to realize that hearing loss is about a lot more than aging.
You need to understand this one thing: Admitting that you have hearing loss doesn’t make you old.
Hearing Loss is a Condition That Can Occur at Any Age
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already see hearing loss by age 12. Clearly, you aren’t “old” when you’re 12. In the last 30 years, hearing loss among teenagers has increased by 33 %.
What’s the reason for this?
Disabling hearing loss has already set in for 2% of people between 45 and 55 and 8% of people between the ages of 55 and 64.
It’s not an aging issue. You can 100% avoid what is generally considered “age related hearing loss”. And you have the power to dramatically reduce its advancement.
Age-associated hearing loss, medically known as sensorineural hearing loss, is usually a result of noise.
Hearing loss was, for many years, assumed to be an inescapable part of aging. But these days, science understands more about how to safeguard your hearing and even restore it.
How Hearing Loss is Triggered by Noise
Step one to protecting your hearing is learning how something as “harmless” as noise causes hearing loss.
Waves are what sound is composed of. Your ear canal receives these waves. They move down past your eardrum into your inner ear.
In your inner ear are very small hair cells which oscillate when sound impacts them. Which hair cells vibrate, and how fast or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain is able to translate this code into words, running water, a car horn, a cry or whatever else you may hear.
But these hairs can oscillate with too much intensity when the inner ear gets sound that is too loud. This level of sound damages these hairs and they will eventually stop working.
Without them, you won’t be able to hear.
Why Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Irreversible
Wounds like cuts or broken bones heal. But when you impair these tiny hair cells, they cannot heal, and they cannot regenerate. Over time, as you expose your ears to loud noise, more and more of these hairs fail.
Hearing loss gets worse as they do.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Most people don’t know that hearing loss can be caused by every day noises. You may not think twice about:
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Playing in a band
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Wearing earbuds/head phones
- Cranking up the car stereo
- Lawn mowing
- Running farm equipment
You can keep on doing these things. Luckily, you can minimize noise induced hearing loss by taking some safety measures.
How to Stop Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Old
Admitting you have hearing loss, if you already suffer from it, doesn’t have to make you feel old. The truth is, failing to acknowledge it can doom you to faster advancement and complications that “will” make you feel much older in only a few years like:
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Strained relationships
- Social Isolation
- Increased Fall Risk
For people with untreated hearing loss these are a lot more prevalent.
Ways You Can Avoid Further Hearing Damage
Learning how to prevent hearing loss is the starting point.
- Get a sound meter app on your phone. Discover how loud things really are.
- Learn when volumes become harmful. Above 85 dB (decibels) can cause permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. Permanent hearing loss, at 110 dB, takes place in over 15 minutes. 120 dB and above causes immediate hearing loss. A gunshot is between 140 to 170 dB.
- Realize that you’ve already triggered irreversible hearing damage each time you’ve had a difficult time hearing right after a concert. The more often it happens, the worse it will become.
- When it’s necessary, wear earplugs or earmuffs.
- When dealing with hearing protection, implement any guidelines that apply to your situation.
- Reduce your exposure time to loud noises.
- Avoid standing close to loudspeakers or turning speakers up at home.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have integrated volume control. They never go over 90 decibels. At that volume, even constant, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for most people.
- Even at lower volumes, if you are taking some common medications, have high blood pressure, or have low blood oxygen, you’re hearing may still be in danger. Always keep your headphones at or below 50%. Car speakers vary.
- Wear your hearing aid. Not using hearing aids when you need them causes the brain to atrophy. It works the same way as your muscles. If you stop using them, it will be hard to begin again.
Schedule an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Don’t do it. Be active about reducing further harm by acknowledging your situation.
Speak with Your Hearing Specialist About Hearing Solutions
There are no “natural cures” for hearing loss. It may be time to get a hearing aid if your hearing loss is severe.
Do a Cost to Benefit Analysis of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of individuals are either in denial about 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 they cost too much.
But when they realize that hearing loss will worsen faster and can cause numerous health and relationship complications, it’s easy to recognize that the pros well surpass the cons.
Consult a hearing care professional today about having a hearing test. And if hearing aids are suggested, don’t be concerned about “feeling old”. Todays hearing aids are stylish and advanced pieces of modern technology.