As you got older, you probably started to connect hearing loss with aging. Older adults around you 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 fast approached, as you learn more about hearing loss, you find it has less to do with the aging process and much more to do with something else.
Here is the one thing you should know: Acknowledging that you have hearing loss doesn’t make you old.
Hearing Loss is a Condition That Can Occur at Any Age
By the age of 12, audiologists can already see some hearing loss in 13% of cases. You’ll recognize, 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 debilitating hearing loss.
Aging isn’t the problem. You can 100% prevent what is typically thought of as “age related hearing loss”. And you have the power to significantly minimize its development.
Age-associated hearing loss, clinically known as sensorineural hearing loss, is usually a result of noise.
Hearing loss was, for years, thought to be an inescapable part of aging. But safeguarding and even restoring your hearing is well within the scope of modern science.
How Hearing Loss is Triggered by Noise
Learning how noise results in hearing loss is step one in safeguarding hearing.
Sound is composed of waves. These waves go into your ear canal. They reach your inner ear after going past your eardrum.
Here, tiny hair cells in your inner ear vibrate. What hair cells vibrate, and how quickly or frequently they vibrate, becomes a signal in the brain. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But when the inner ear receives sounds that are too intense, these hair cells oscillate too fast. This level of sound destroys these hairs and they will eventually stop working.
when they’re gone, you won’t be able to hear.
Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Permanent, Here’s Why
If you cut yourself, the wound heals. But these little hair cells won’t heal or grow back. Over time, as you expose your ears to loud sounds, more and more of these hairs fail.
As they do, hearing loss progresses.
every day Noises That Damage Hearing
Many people are shocked to discover that every day activities can result in hearing loss. You might not think twice about:
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Being a musician
- Using head phones/earbuds
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Running farm equipment
- attending a movie/play/concert
- Lawn mowing
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
You don’t need to give up these activities. Thankfully, you can take protective steps to reduce noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Make Sure You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
Acknowledging that you have hearing loss, if you already suffer from it, doesn’t have 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 just a few years like:
- Social Isolation
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Strained relationships
- Increased Fall Risk
These are all considerably more prevalent in individuals with neglected hearing loss.
Prevent Further Hearing Damage
Start by understanding how to avoid hearing loss.
- Download a sound meter app on your mobile device. Find out how loud things actually are.
- Be familiar with hazardous levels. Over 85 dB (decibels) can cause irreversible hearing loss in 8 hours. Permanent hearing loss, at 110 dB, occurs in about 15 minutes. 120 dB and above causes immediate hearing loss. A gunshot is 140 to 170 dB.
- Recognize that If you’ve ever had trouble hearing for a while after a concert, you’ve already caused lasting damage to your hearing. It will become more pronounced with time.
- Use earplugs and/or sound-dampening earmuffs when appropriate.
- When it comes to hearing protection, implement any safeguards that apply to your circumstance.
- If you have to be exposed to loud noises, restrict your exposure time.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a bad idea in any setting.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have built in volume control. They have a 90 dB upper limit. At that level, even constant, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for most people.
- Even at lower levels, if you are taking some common medications, have high blood pressure, or have low blood oxygen, you’re hearing could still be in peril. Always keep your headphones at 50% or less. Car speakers vary.
- Wear your hearing aid. The brain will start to atrophy if you don’t wear your hearing aid when you need it. It works the same way as your muscles. If you let them go, it will be tough to get them back.
Have a Hearing Examination
Are you in denial or simply putting things off? Don’t do it. You need to accept your hearing loss so that you can take measures to minimize further damage.
Talk to Your Hearing Professional About Hearing Solutions
There are no “natural cures” for hearing loss. If hearing loss is extreme, 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 acknowledge their hearing loss just choose to cope with it. They don’t want people to think they look old because they have hearing aids. Or they assume they cost too much.
But when they recognize that hearing loss will worsen faster and can cause many health and relationship challenges, it’s easy to recognize that the pros well outnumber the cons.
Talk to a hearing care expert right away about getting a hearing exam. And you don’t have to be concerned that you look old if you wind up needing hearing aids. Modern hearing aids are sophisticated and advanced pieces of modern technology.