When you were younger, you most likely thought of hearing loss as a consequence of getting old. Older adults around you were probably wearing hearing aids or struggling to hear.
In your youth, getting old seems so far away but as time goes by you start to realize that hearing loss is about far more than aging.
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 Ailment That Can Take Place at Any Age
By the age of 12, audiologists can already detect some hearing loss in 13% of cases. Clearly, you aren’t “old” when you’re 12. In the last 30 years, hearing loss in teenagers has increased by 33 %.
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 may consider an age-related hearing loss is 100% avoidable. And you have the power to dramatically reduce its advancement.
Age-associated hearing loss, medically known as sensorineural hearing loss, is usually caused by noise.
Hearing loss was, for decades, considered to be an unavoidable part of aging. But nowadays, science understands more about how to protect your hearing and even restore it.
How Hearing Loss is Triggered by Noise
Understanding how noise results in hearing loss is the first step in protecting hearing.
Waves are what sound is composed of. These waves travel into your ear canal. They move down past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Inside your inner ear are small hair cells which vibrate when sound hits them. Which hair cells oscillate, and how fast or frequently they vibrate, becomes a signal in the brain. Your brain then converts this code into sound.
But when the inner ear is exposed to sounds that are too intense, these hair cells oscillate too quickly. The sound vibrates them to death.
When these hairs are gone you won’t be able to hear.
Why Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Irreversible
If you cut your hand, the cut heals. But these tiny hair cells don’t heal or grow back. The more often you’re subjected to loud noise, the more tiny hair cells die.
As they do, hearing loss worsens.
Common Noises That Damage Hearing
Many people are shocked to learn that daily activities can result in hearing loss. You might not think twice about:
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- attending a concert/play/movies
- Mowing the lawn
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Playing in a band
- Cranking up the car stereo
- Running farm equipment
You can keep on doing these things. Thankfully, you can take protective measures to limit noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Stop Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Older
Admitting you have hearing loss, if you already suffer from it, doesn’t have to make you feel old. The fact is, failing to acknowledge it can doom you to faster progression and complications that “will” make you feel much older in just a few years like:
- Increased Fall Risk
- Social Isolation
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Strained relationships
These are all substantially more prevalent in individuals with untreated hearing loss.
Reduce Further Hearing Damage
Understanding how to stop hearing loss is the starting point.
- Download a sound meter app on your phone. Find out how loud things actually are.
- Be familiar with harmful volumes. In under 8 hours, irreversible damage can be the result of volumes over 85dB. Lasting hearing loss, at 110 dB, happens in about 15 minutes. 120 dB and over causes instantaneous hearing loss. A gunshot is 140 to 170 dB.
- Understand that you’ve already triggered irreversible hearing damage every time you’ve had a hard time hearing right after going to a concert. The more often it happens, the worse it gets.
- Wear earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when appropriate.
- Follow work hearing protection rules.
- If you have to be exposed to loud sounds, limit your exposure time.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a bad idea in any situation.
- Some headphones and earbuds have built in volume control for a safer listening experience. They have a 90 dB upper limit. Most people would have to listen almost continuously all day to trigger permanent damage.
- Some medications, low blood oxygen, and even high blood pressure can make you more vulnerable at lower levels. To be safe, you should never listen on headphones at over 50%. Car speakers vary.
- Wear your hearing aid. The brain will start to atrophy if you don’t use your hearing aid when you need it. It’s a lot like your leg muscles. If you stop utilizing them, it will be difficult to start again.
Schedule an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you putting things off or in denial? Don’t do it. Be proactive about reducing further damage by acknowledging your situation.
Talk to Your Hearing Professional About Hearing Solutions
There are no “natural cures” for hearing loss. If hearing loss is severe, it could be time to invest in a hearing aid.
Do a Cost to Benefit Comparison of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of individuals are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they choose to “tough it out”. They don’t want people to think they look old because they have hearing aids. Or they think they cost too much.
But when they recognize that hearing loss will worsen faster and can cause many relationship and health complications, it’s easy to see that the pros well outweigh the cons.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing professional. And if hearing aids are suggested, don’t be concerned about “feeling old”. Present day hearing aids are stylish and advanced pieces of modern technology.