As we get older we tend to think that hearing loss only has an affect on the older generation. Almost all of us have experience with older people struggling to make out words and phrases, or using hearing aids.
As you grow up, you begin to find out that there is an additional cause of hearing loss aside from aging.
This is the most important thing to know: acknowledging that you have hearing loss will not make you old.
Hearing Loss Is an “Any Age Issue”
Even in pre-teens, audiologists can already identify some hearing loss in 13% of cases. Obviously, someone who is 12 is not “old”. In the past 3 decades there has been a 33% increase in teenage hearing loss.
What’s going on here?
Out of all 45 – 55-year olds, 2% already suffer from disabling hearing loss, and with 55 – 65-year-olds it’s 8%.
The problem is not with getting old. It’s absolutely possible to prevent, even though the majority of people might think of it as an aging problem. Significantly reducing your hearing loss is very achievable.
Age-related hearing loss, recognized medically as sensorineural hearing loss, is most frequently instigated by loud noise.
For a long time people have believed that hearing loss was just part of getting old. But nowadays, we are more knowledgeable about how to take care of your hearing and also restore it.
The Reason why Loud Noise Causes Hearing loss
The initial step to protecting your ears is recognizing how something as “harmless” as loud noise causes hearing loss.
Waves of pressure are what makeup sound. Traveling down into your ear these waves go past your eardrum and into the inner ear.
Here, little tiny hair cells in your inner ear resonate. A neurological code is made up of how fast and how frequently these little tiny hairs vibrate. This code will be translated by your brain into the sound of birds singing, someone screaming for assistance, a jet plane, or any other sound which might be around.
The problem is when the inner ear is subjected to sounds that are too loud, these hair cells vibrate too quickly. They die because the vibrations become too loud for them to handle.
When these hairs are lost then so is your hearing.
Why Noise-Related Hearing Loss is Permanent
If you cut your hand, the injury heals. These little cells never heal. When they are gone, they are gone permanently. The more you’re subjected to loud sounds, the more of these little cells die.
Hearing loss progresses as they die.
Hearing Injury can be Caused by Everyday Noises
Many people are shocked to find out that routine activities can be the cause of hearing loss. You may not think twice about:
- Going to a concert/play/movie
- Wearing earbuds/head phones
- Turning the car stereo up too loud
- Mowing the lawn
- Using farm equipment
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Working in a manufacturing plant or other loud profession
- Playing music in a band
It’s not necessary to quit these activities. Thankfully, you can take practical measures to reduce noise-related hearing loss.
Don’t Permit Hearing Loss Make you Feel old
You can acknowledge that you suffer from hearing loss without having to feel old. The longer you disregard it, the worse it’s going to get, and you will end up feeling older much sooner because of:
- Increased Fall Risk
- Social Isolation
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Strained relationships
It’s considerably more common for people with untreated hearing loss to be dealing with one or more of these.
Continued Hearing Loss can be Avoided
Learning how to prevent hearing loss is the first thing you should do.
- Find out how loud everyday sounds truly are by getting a sound meter app on your smart-phone.
- Learn about dangerous volumes. Above 85 dB (decibels) can cause irreversible hearing loss in only 8 hours. 110 dB takes about 15 minutes to cause irreversible hearing loss. 120 dB and higher causes instant hearing loss. A gunshot is 140 to 170 dB.
- You should know that you have already caused hearing damage if you have had a hard time hearing, or if your ears were ringing, after a concert. It will get a lot more pronounced as time goes by.
- Use earplugs or maybe sound-dampening earmuffs when appropriate.
- Follow work hearing protection restrictions.
- Limit your exposure time to loud sounds.
- Steer clear of standing in close proximity to loudspeakers or turning speakers up when at home.
- Get earbuds/headphones which have built-in volume control. They never go over 90 decibels. Most people would need to listen almost non-stop all day to cause irreversible damage.
- High blood pressure, not enough blood oxygen, and various medications tend to cause you to be more vulnerable at lower volumes. To be sure, don’t ever listen to headphones at above 50%. Car speakers vary.
- Put on your hearing aid. Not wearing a hearing aid if you require them causes the brain to atrophy. It’s the same as your leg muscles. If you stop walking, it gets much more difficult to walk.
Schedule a Hearing Test
Are you putting off on it or are in denial? Stop it. The sooner you make the smart choice the less damage you will keep doing.
Have a talk with Your Hearing Specialist About Hearing Solutions
There are no “normal cures” for hearing impairment. If hearing loss is serious, it could be time to invest in a hearing aid.
A Cost-Benefits Analysis is the First Step
Lots of people are either in denial about hearing loss, or alternatively, they choose to “tough it out.” They feel that hearing aids make them feel old. Or perhaps they think they are too expensive.
But as soon as they realize that hearing loss will deteriorate faster and can cause several health and relationship issues, it’s easy to see that the pros greatly outweigh the cons.
Call a hearing care specialist today about getting a hearing test. And if hearing aids are recommended, don’t be afraid of “feeling old.” Hearing aids these days are much sleeker and more advanced than you probably think!