As you got older, you likely started to connect hearing loss with aging. You probably had older adults in your life struggling to understand words or wearing hearing aids.
When you’re young, getting old seems so distant but as time passes you begin to realize that hearing loss is about a lot more than aging.
You need to realize this one thing: It doesn’t make you old just because you acknowledge you have hearing loss.
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, your not “old” when you’re 12. Teen hearing loss has gone up 33% in the past 30 years.
What’s the cause of this?
Debilitating hearing loss has already set in for 2% of individuals between 45 and 55 and 8% of people between the ages of 55 and 64.
It’s not an aging problem. You can 100% avoid what is normally considered “age related hearing loss”. And reducing 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, thought to be an unavoidable part of aging. But protecting and even repairing your hearing is well within the grasp of modern science.
How Hearing Loss is Caused by Noise
The first step to protecting your hearing is learning how something as “innocuous” as noise causes hearing loss.
Sound is made up of waves. Your ear canal receives these waves. They move past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Inside your inner ear are small hair cells that oscillate when sound strikes them. What hair cells oscillate, and how rapidly or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But these hairs can oscillate with too much force when the inner ear gets sound that is too loud. The sound shakes them to death.
When these hairs are gone you can no longer hear.
Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Permanent, Here’s Why
Wounds such as cuts or broken bones heal. But when you damage these little hair cells, they don’t heal, and they cannot grow back. The more often you’re subjected to loud noise, the more little hair cells fail.
As they do, hearing loss worsens.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Most people don’t realize that hearing loss can be caused by every day noises. You may not think twice about:
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Using farm equipment
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- attending a movie/play/concert
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Using earbuds/head phones
- Lawn mowing
- Being a musician
You can keep on doing these things. Thankfully, you can take proactive steps to limit noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Stop Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Old
If you’re already suffering from loss of hearing, admitting it doesn’t need to make you feel old. The fact is, failing to acknowledge it can doom you to faster advancement and complications that “will” make you feel a lot older in just a few years like:
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Strained relationships
- Increased Fall Risk
- Social Isolation
For individuals with neglected hearing loss these are substantially more prevalent.
Ways You Can Prevent Additional Hearing Damage
Understanding how to prevent hearing loss is the starting point.
- Download a sound meter app on your mobile device. Find out how loud things really are.
- Determine when volumes get hazardous. In under 8 hours, irreversible hearing loss can be caused by volumes above 85dB. Lasting hearing loss, at 110 dB, occurs in about 15 minutes. 120 dB and over results in instant hearing loss. 140 to 170 dB is the average level of a gunshot.
- Know that If you’ve ever had difficulty hearing for a while after going to a concert, you’ve already caused permanent damage to your hearing. The more often it occurs, the worse it will become.
- Wear earplugs and/or sound-dampening earmuffs when appropriate.
- Follow work hearing protection rules.
- If you have to be exposed to loud sounds, regulate the exposure time.
- Steer clear of standing close to loudspeakers or cranking up speakers at home.
- Some headphones and earbuds have on-board volume control for a safer listening experience. They have a 90 dB limit. At that volume, even constant, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for most individuals.
- High blood pressure, low blood oxygen, and some medications can make you more susceptible at lower levels. To be safe, never listen on headphones at over 50%. Car speakers will vary and a volume meter app can help but when it comes to headphones, no louder than 50% is best policy.
- If you have a hearing aid, use it. The brain will start 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 in denial or simply putting things off? Stop it. You have to acknowledge your hearing loss so that you will take measures to reduce further damage.
Speak with Your Hearing Specialist About Hearing Solutions
There are no “natural cures” for hearing loss. If hearing loss is severe, it might be time to get a hearing aid.
Do a Comparison of The Cost of Getting Hearing Aids to The Benefits
Lots of people are either in denial about hearing loss, or they decide to “just deal with”. They don’t want people to think they look old because they have hearing aids. Or they think that they cost too much.
It’s easy to see, however, that when the adverse effect on relationships and health will cost more in the long run.
Talk to a hearing care expert right away about getting a hearing test. And you don’t have to be concerned that you appear old if you end up requiring hearing aids. Hearing aids today are significantly sleeker and more advanced than you may believe!