Growing up into adulthood, you likely began to connect hearing loss with aging. Older adults in your life were probably wearing hearing aids or struggling to hear.
But in the same way as 30 or 60 only seemed old to you until it started to catch up to you, as you learn more 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: Acknowledging that you have hearing loss doesn’t mean that you’re old.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Issue”
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already see hearing loss by age 12. You’ll agree, this isn’t because 12-year-olds are “old”. Teenage hearing loss has increased 33% in the past 30 years.
What’s the cause of this?
Disabling hearing loss has already developed for 2% of individuals between 45 and 55 and 8% of people between the ages of 55 and 64.
It isn’t an aging problem. You can 100% avoid what is normally considered “age related hearing loss”. And limiting its development is well within your ability.
Noise exposure is the typical cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for decades, thought to be an inevitable part of aging. But nowadays, science understands more about how to safeguard your hearing and even repair it.
How Noise Causes Hearing Loss
Step one to protecting your hearing is recognizing how something as “harmless” as noise causes hearing loss.
Sound is composed of waves. The canal of your ear receives these waves. They move down past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Inside your inner ear are tiny hair cells that vibrate when sound hits them. The speed and intensity of these vibrations then encode a neurological signal. Your brain can convert this code into words, rushing water, a car horn, a cry or anything else you might hear.
But when the inner ear receives sounds that are too loud, these hair cells move too quickly. This level of sound damages these hairs and they will eventually stop working.
when they’re gone, you can’t hear.
Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Permanent, Here’s Why
If you cut your hand, the cut heals. But when you damage these little hair cells, they cannot heal, and they never grow back. The more often you’re exposed to loud sounds, the more tiny hair cells die.
Hearing loss gets worse as they do.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Most people don’t recognize that hearing loss can be caused by noise we hear every day. These things may seem perfectly harmless:
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
- Turning up the car stereo
- attending a movie/play/concert
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Wearing earbuds/head phones
- Being a musician
- Using farm equipment
- Lawn mowing
You don’t need to quit these activities. Fortunately, you can take protective steps to reduce noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Old
If you’re currently suffering from hearing loss, admitting it doesn’t need to make you feel old. The fact is, failing to accept it can doom you to faster development and complications that “will” make you feel a lot older in just a few years like:
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
- Strained relationships
- Increased Fall Risk
For people with untreated hearing loss these are much more prevalent.
Ways You Can Avoid Additional Hearing Problems
Understanding how to stop hearing loss is the initial step.
- In order to figure out how loud things actually are, download a sound meter app.
- Be familiar with hazardous volumes. In less than 8 hours, irreversible hearing loss can be caused by volumes over 85dB. Permanent hearing loss, at 110 dB, happens in about 15 minutes. Instant hearing loss takes place at 120dB or higher. 140 to 170 dB is the average level of a gunshot.
- Realize that you’ve already triggered permanent hearing damage each time you’ve had a difficult time hearing right after going to a concert. The more often it occurs, the worse it will become.
- Use earplugs and/or sound-dampening earmuffs when appropriate.
- Follow work hearing protection rules.
- Reduce your exposure time to loud sounds.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a bad idea in any situation.
- Some headphones and earbuds have on-board volume control for a safer listening experience. They never go over 90 dB. Most people would have to listen almost non-stop all day to trigger permanent damage.
- Even at lower volumes, if you have low blood oxygen, high blood pressure, or are taking some common medication, you’re hearing might still be in peril. Always keep your headphones at or below 50%. Car speakers vary.
- Wear your hearing aid. Not wearing hearing aids when you need them causes the brain to atrophy. It works the same way as your muscles. If you let them go, it will be tough to get them back.
Have a Hearing Test
Are you in denial or simply putting things off? Stop it. You need to acknowledge your hearing loss so that you can be proactive to decrease further harm.
Consult Your Hearing Specialist About Solutions For Your Hearing Loss.
There aren’t any “natural cures” for hearing loss. It could be time to get a hearing aid if your hearing loss is severe.
Do a Cost to Benefit Analysis of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of individuals who do acknowledge their hearing loss just decide to cope with it. They think hearing aids make them look old. Or they think they cost too much.
But when they recognize that hearing loss will get worse faster and can cause many health and relationship challenges, it’s easy to recognize that the pros well surpass the cons.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing professional. And you don’t have to be concerned that you look old if you wind up needing hearing aids. Hearing aids at present are significantly sleeker and more sophisticated than you may think!