As you got older, you probably began to associate hearing loss with aging. Older adults in your life were probably wearing hearing aids or having a difficult time hearing.
But in the same way as 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 find it has less to do with the aging process and much more to do with something else.
You need to understand this one thing: Admitting that you have hearing loss doesn’t mean that you’re old.
Hearing Loss is an Ailment That Can Happen at Any Age
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already detect hearing loss by age 12. Clearly, you aren’t “old” when you’re 12. Teenage hearing loss has risen 33% in the past 30 years.
What’s the reason for this?
Disabling hearing loss has already set in for 2% of individuals between the ages of 45 and 55 and 8% of people between the ages of 55 and 64.
Aging isn’t the issue. You can 100% avoid what is normally thought of as “age related hearing loss”. And you have the power to significantly minimize its development.
Age-associated hearing loss, known medically sensorineural hearing loss, is most commonly caused by noise.
For generations hearing loss was thought to be inevitable as you age. But today, science knows more about how to protect your hearing and even restore it.
How Noise Causes Hearing Loss
Recognizing how noise causes hearing loss is the first step in protecting hearing.
Waves are what sound is composed of. Your ear canal receives these waves. They arrive at your inner ear after going past your eardrum.
In your inner ear are tiny hair cells that vibrate when sound hits them. The intensity and speed of these vibrations then encode a neurological signal. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But when the inner ear receives sounds that are too loud, these hair cells vibrate too fast. This level of sound destroys these hairs and they will eventually fail.
when they’re gone, you won’t be able to hear.
Why Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Irreversible
If you cut your hand, the wound heals. But these tiny hair cells don’t heal or grow back. Over time, as you subject your ears to loud sounds, more and more of these hairs perish.
As they do, hearing loss worsens.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These Common Noises
Many people are shocked to learn that common activities can result in hearing loss. You might not think twice about:
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Using farm equipment
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
- Lawn mowing
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Playing in a band
- Cranking up the car stereo
You don’t have to quit these things. Thankfully, you can take proactive measures to minimize noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Old
Acknowledging that you have hearing loss, if you already suffer from it, doesn’t have to make you feel old. As a matter of fact, failing to accept it can doom you to faster advancement and complications that “will” make you feel a lot older in only a few years like:
- Increased Fall Risk
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
- Strained relationships
These are all considerably more prevalent in individuals with untreated hearing loss.
Stop Further Hearing Injury
Recognizing how to prevent hearing loss is the initial step.
- Download a sound meter app on your mobile device. Find out how loud things really are.
- Learn when volumes get dangerous. Over 85 dB (decibels) can result in permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. 110 dB takes about 15 minutes to cause irreversible hearing loss. 120 dB and over will cause instantaneous hearing loss. 140 to 170 dB is the average level of a gunshot.
- Know that If you’ve ever had difficulty hearing temporarily after going to a concert, you’ve already generated permanent damage to your hearing. The more often it happens, the worse it gets.
- Wear earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when necessary.
- When dealing with hearing protection, implement any rules that pertain to your situation.
- Reduce your exposure time to loud sounds.
- Avoid standing close to loudspeakers or cranking up speakers at home.
- Some headphones and earbuds have built in volume control for a safer listening experience. They have a 90 dB limit. Most people would have to listen nearly continuously all day to cause permanent damage.
- Even at lower levels, if you have low blood oxygen, high blood pressure, or are taking some common medication, you’re hearing may still be in danger. To be safe, do not listen on headphones at over 50%. Car speakers vary.
- If you have a hearing aid, wear it. The brain will begin to atrophy if you don’t wear your hearing aid when you require it. It works the same way as the muscles in your body. If you stop using them, it will be hard to start again.
Have a Hearing Exam
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Don’t do it. Be proactive about reducing further harm by recognizing your situation.
Consult With Your Hearing Professional About Solutions For Your Hearing Loss.
Hearing impairment has no “natural cure”. If hearing loss is severe, it may be time to invest in a hearing aid.
Do a Cost-Benefit Analysis of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of individuals who do recognize their hearing loss simply choose to deal with it. They don’t want people to think they look old because they have hearing aids. Or they assume that they cost too much.
It’s easy to see, however, that when the harmful effect on health and relationships will cost more in the long run.
Schedule a hearing exam with a hearing specialist. And if hearing aids are advised, don’t be concerned about “feeling old”. Hearing aids at present are a lot sleeker and more sophisticated than you may think!