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 started to catch up to you, as you learn more about hearing loss, you realize that it has less to do with getting old and much more to do with something else.
This is the one thing you should know: It doesn’t make you old just because you admit you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Issue”
By 12 years old, audiologists can already identify some hearing loss in 13% of cases. You’ll recognize, this isn’t because a 12 year old is “old”. Teenage hearing loss has gone up 33% in the past 30 years.
What’s at work here?
Debilitating hearing loss has already set in for 2% of individuals between the ages of 45 and 55 and 8% of people between 55 and 64.
It isn’t an aging issue. What you probably consider an age-related hearing loss is 100% avoidable. And you have the power to dramatically minimize its progression.
Noise exposure is the typical cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for decades, thought to be an unavoidable part of aging. But safeguarding and even repairing your hearing is well within the grasp of modern science.
How Hearing Loss is Triggered by Noise
Recognizing how noise results in hearing loss is the first step in safeguarding hearing.
Waves are what sound is composed of. These waves travel into your ear canal. They reach your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
In your inner ear are small hair cells that oscillate when sound impacts them. The intensity and speed of these vibrations then encode a neurological signal. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But these hairs can vibrate with too much force when the inner ear gets sound that is too loud. The sound vibrates them to death.
when they’re gone, you won’t be able to hear.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Irreversible, Here’s Why
If you cut yourself, the wound heals. But these little hair cells don’t grow back or heal. Over time, as you expose your ears to loud sounds, more and more of these hairs die.
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 might not think twice about:
- Running farm equipment
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Turning up the car stereo
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Being a musician
- Lawn mowing
- Wearing earbuds/head phones
You don’t have to quit these things. Fortunately, you can take protective actions to limit noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Stop Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Old
If you’re currently suffering from loss of hearing, admitting it doesn’t have to make you feel old. Actually, you will feel older a lot sooner if you fail to recognize your hearing loss because of complications like:
- Social Isolation
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Increased Fall Risk
- Strained relationships
For individuals with neglected hearing loss these are much more prevalent.
Reduce Further Hearing Damage
Get started by learning how to avoid hearing loss.
- Download a sound meter app on your mobile device. Find out how loud things really are.
- Be familiar with hazardous volumes. Above 85 dB (decibels) can cause irreversible hearing loss in 8 hours. 110 dB takes around 15 minutes to cause irreversible hearing loss. Immediate hearing loss takes place at 120dB or higher. 140 to 170 dB is the average volume of a gunshot.
- Know that If you’ve ever had trouble hearing for a while after a concert, you’ve already caused permanent damage to your hearing. It will become more severe over time.
- When it’s needed, use earplugs or earmuffs.
- When dealing with hearing protection, adhere to any rules that pertain to your circumstance.
- If you need to be exposed to loud sounds, restrict the exposure time.
- Avoid standing near loudspeakers or turning speakers up at home.
- Some headphones and earbuds have built in volume control for a less dangerous listening experience. They never go above 90 decibels. Most people would need to listen nearly non-stop all day to trigger permanent damage.
- Some medications, low blood oxygen, and even high blood pressure can make you more vulnerable at lower volumes. Always keep your headphones at or below 50%. Car speakers vary.
- Use your hearing aid. Not using hearing aids when you need them results in brain atrophy. It’s a lot like your leg muscles. If you stop using them, it will be difficult to begin again.
Have a Hearing Examination
Are you in denial or simply putting things off? Don’t do it. You need to acknowledge your hearing loss so that you will take measures to reduce further damage.
Speak with Your Hearing Professional About Hearing Loss Solutions
There are no “natural cures” for hearing loss. If hearing loss is extreme, it may be time to invest in a hearing aid.
Compare The Cost of Getting Hearing Aids to The Benefits
Many people are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they decide to “just deal with”. They don’t want people to think they are old because they wear hearing aids. Or they are worried that they won’t be able to afford them.
It’s easy to see, however, that when the harmful effect on health and relationships will cost more over time.
Talk to a hearing care expert right away about getting a hearing exam. And you don’t need to worry that you look old if you wind up needing hearing aids. Present day hearing aids are sophisticated and advanced pieces of modern technology.