As you got older, you likely started to associate hearing loss with 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 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 understand this one thing: It doesn’t make you old just because you acknowledge you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an Ailment That Can Occur at Any Age
By the age of 12, audiologists can already see some hearing loss in 13% of cases. You’ll agree, this isn’t because 12-year-olds are “old”. In the last 30 years, hearing loss among teenagers has gone up by 33 %.
What’s happening here?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already have debilitating hearing loss.
Aging isn’t the problem. What you probably think of as age-related hearing loss is 100% preventable. And you have the ability to dramatically decrease its advancement.
Noise exposure is the typical cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
For decades hearing loss was assumed to be inevitable as you get older. But safeguarding and even repairing your hearing is well within the scope of modern science.
How Hearing Loss is Triggered by Noise
Understanding how noise causes hearing loss is step one in safeguarding hearing.
Waves are what sound is composed of. Your ear canal receives these waves. They arrive at your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
In your inner ear are tiny hair cells which vibrate when sound strikes them. The speed and intensity of these vibrations will 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 oscillate too rapidly. The sound vibrates them to death.
When these hairs are gone you won’t be able to hear.
Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Irreversible, Here’s Why
If you cut your hand, the wound heals. But these tiny hair cells don’t grow back or heal. The more often you’re exposed to loud sounds, the more tiny hair cells fail.
As they do, hearing loss progresses.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Most people don’t recognize that hearing loss can be caused by every day noises. These things may seem totally harmless:
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Using farm equipment
- Being a musician
- attending a movie/play/concert
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Lawn mowing
You can keep on doing these things. Luckily, you can take protective steps to limit noise-induced hearing loss.
How to be Certain That You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
Acknowledging that you have hearing loss, if you’re already dealing with it, doesn’t have to make you feel old. As a matter of fact, you will feel older a lot sooner if you fail to recognize your hearing loss due to complications like:
- Increased Fall Risk
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
- Strained relationships
These are all substantially more prevalent in individuals with untreated hearing loss.
Prevent Further Hearing Damage
Understanding how to stop hearing loss is the first step.
- So that you can find out how loud things really are, get a sound meter app.
- Learn when volumes become dangerous. Over 85 dB (decibels) can cause permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. Irreversible hearing loss, at 110 dB, occurs in about 15 minutes. 120 dB and over causes immediate hearing loss. A gunshot is between 140 to 170 dB.
- Know that If you’ve ever had trouble hearing for a while after going to a concert, you’ve already generated lasting damage to your hearing. It will become more pronounced with time.
- When it’s required, wear earplugs or earmuffs.
- When it comes to hearing protection, adhere to any guidelines that pertain to your situation.
- Regulate your exposure time to loud noises.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a bad idea in any situation.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have built in volume control. They have a 90 dB upper limit. Most people would have to listen nearly non-stop all day to cause irreversible damage.
- High blood pressure, low blood oxygen, and some medications can make you more susceptible at lower levels. Always keep your headphones at 50% or less. Car speakers will fluctuate and a volume meter app can help but regarding headphones, no louder than 50% is best policy.
- Wear your hearing aid. The brain will start to atrophy if you don’t wear your hearing aid when you require it. It works the same way as your muscles. If you let them go, it will be difficult to get them back.
Schedule an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Don’t do it. Be active about reducing further harm by recognizing your situation.
Speak with Your Hearing Professional About Hearing Solutions
Hearing impairment does not have any “natural cure”. If hearing loss is severe, it might be time to invest in a hearing aid.
Do a Cost-Benefit Comparison of Investing in Hearing Aids
Many people are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they decide to “tough it out”. They believe that hearing aids make them seem old. Or they are worried that they won’t be able to afford them.
But when they comprehend that hearing loss will get worse faster and can cause numerous health and relationship challenges, it’s easy to see that the pros well surpass the cons.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing professional. And if hearing aids are advised, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Present day hearing aids are stylish and advanced pieces of modern technology.