When you were younger, you probably considered hearing loss a consequence of aging. Older adults around you 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 become more aware about hearing loss, you realize that it has less to do with getting old and much more to do with something else.
You need to realize this one thing: Acknowledging 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. You’ll agree, this isn’t because 12-year-olds are “old”. In the past 30 years, hearing loss among teenagers has gone up by 33 %.
What’s at work here?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already suffer from disabling hearing loss.
Aging isn’t the problem. You can 100% prevent what is commonly considered “age related hearing loss”. And reducing its progression is well within your power.
Noise exposure is the most common cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
For decades hearing loss was believed to be inevitable as you get older. But today, science understands more about how to safeguard your hearing and even repair it.
How Hearing Loss is Caused by Noise
Step one to protecting your hearing is recognizing how something as “harmless” as noise results in hearing loss.
Waves are what sound is made of. These waves travel into your ear canal. They progress down past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Here, little hair cells in your inner ear vibrate. Which hair cells vibrate, and how rapidly or frequently they vibrate, becomes a signal in the brain. Your brain can convert this code into words, running water, a car horn, a cry or anything else you may hear.
But these hairs can move with too much force when the inner ear gets sound that is too intense. This level of sound damages these hairs and they will eventually die.
Without them, you can’t hear.
Why Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Permanent
Wounds such as cuts or broken bones heal. But when you impair these little hair cells, they cannot heal, and they never regenerate. The more often you’re subjected to loud sounds, the more little hair cells fail.
As they do, hearing loss worsens.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Many people are surprised to learn that common activities can cause hearing loss. These things probably seem totally harmless:
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Going to a concert/play/movies
- Using farm equipment
- Being a musician
- Mowing the lawn
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
- Wearing earbuds/head phones
- Turning the car stereo way up
You can keep doing these things. Luckily, you can decrease noise induced hearing loss by taking some protective measures.
How to be Certain That You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
Acknowledging that you have hearing loss, if you already suffer from it, doesn’t need to make you feel old. In fact, failing to acknowledge it can doom you to faster progression and complications that “will” make you feel a lot older in only a few years like:
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Increased Fall Risk
- Strained relationships
- Social Isolation
For people with neglected hearing loss these are a lot more prevalent.
Stop Further Hearing Damage
Recognizing how to stop hearing loss is the first step.
- Get a sound meter app on your mobile device. Discover how loud things really are.
- Find out when volumes get harmful. In under 8 hours, permanent hearing loss can be caused by volumes above 85dB. Permanent hearing loss, at 110 dB, occurs in about 15 minutes. Instant hearing loss takes place at 120dB or higher. 140 to 170 dB is the average volume of a gunshot.
- Realize that you’ve already caused permanent hearing damage every time you’ve had a hard time hearing right after a concert. It will become more obvious with time.
- When it’s required, wear earplugs or earmuffs.
- Implement work hearing protection rules.
- Reduce your exposure time to loud sounds.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a bad idea in any situation.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have built in volume control. They never go over 90 dB. At that level, even constant, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for most people.
- Even at lower volumes, if you have low blood oxygen, high blood pressure, or are taking some common medication, you’re hearing could still be in peril. To be safe, you should never listen on headphones at over 50%. Car speakers vary.
- If you have a hearing aid, wear it. The brain will start to atrophy if you don’t wear your hearing aid when you require it. It works the same as the muscles in your body. If you stop making use of them, it will be hard to start again.
Have a Hearing Exam
Are you putting things off or in denial? Stop it. You need to accept your hearing loss so that you can be proactive to decrease further harm.
Talk to Your Hearing Professional About Hearing Loss Solutions
There aren’t any “natural cures” for hearing loss. It could be time to get a hearing aid if your hearing loss is severe.
Compare The Cost of Getting Hearing Aids to The Advantages
Lots of people are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they choose to “tough it out”. They believe that hearing aids make them look old. Or they assume that they cost too much.
But when they comprehend that hearing loss will worsen faster and can cause numerous health and relationship complications, it’s easy to see that the pros well outweigh the cons.
Consult a hearing care specialist today about getting a hearing test. And if hearing aids are suggested, don’t be concerned about “feeling old”. Hearing aids nowadays are much sleeker and more sophisticated than you may think!