As you got older, you probably began to associate hearing loss with aging. You probably had older adults in your life trying to comprehend words or wearing hearing aids.
In your youth, getting old seems so distant but as time passes you begin to realize that hearing loss is about far more than aging.
You need to realize this one thing: Acknowledging that you have hearing loss doesn’t make you old.
Hearing Loss is an Ailment That Can Take Place at Any Age
By the age of 12, audiologists can already see some hearing loss in 13% of cases. Obviously, your not “old” when you’re 12. Teenage hearing loss has risen 33% in the last 30 years.
What’s the reason for this?
Debilitating hearing loss has already set in for 2% of individuals between 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 commonly considered “age related hearing loss”. And limiting its development is well within your power.
Noise exposure is the most common cause of age related or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for years, assumed to be an unavoidable part of aging. But nowadays, science understands more about how to safeguard your hearing and even restore it.
How Noise Causes Hearing Loss
Learning how noise causes hearing loss is the first step in protecting hearing.
Waves are what sound is made of. These waves go into your ear canal. They reach your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
Here, little hair cells in your inner ear oscillate. What hair cells vibrate, and how fast or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain then converts this code into sound.
But when the inner ear is exposed to sounds that are too intense, these hair cells vibrate too rapidly. This level of sound destroys these hairs and they will eventually fail.
When these hairs die you won’t be able to hear.
Why Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Irreversible
If you cut your hand, the wound heals. But when you damage these tiny hair cells, they don’t heal, and they cannot regenerate. Over time, as you expose your ears to loud sounds, more and more of these hairs die.
As they do, hearing loss worsens.
Common Noises That Damage Hearing
Many people are shocked to learn that daily activities can result in hearing loss. These things may seem perfectly harmless:
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Lawn mowing
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
- Being a musician
- Cranking up the car stereo
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Going to a concert/play/movies
- Using head phones/earbuds
- Running farm equipment
You can keep doing these things. Luckily, you can minimize noise induced hearing loss by taking some protective measures.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Old
Acknowledging that you have hearing loss, if you already suffer from it, doesn’t need to make you feel old. As a matter of fact, you will feel older much sooner if you fail to recognize your hearing loss because of complications like:
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Increased Fall Risk
- Social Isolation
- Strained relationships
For individuals with untreated hearing loss these are substantially more common.
Prevent Further Hearing Damage
Begin by knowing how to avoid hearing loss.
- So that you can find out how loud things really are, get a sound meter app.
- Know about dangerous levels. In less than 8 hours, permanent damage can be caused by volumes above 85dB. Irreversible hearing loss, at 110 dB, occurs in about 15 minutes. Immediate hearing loss happens at 120dB or higher. A gunshot is 140 to 170 dB.
- Understand that you’ve already triggered permanent hearing damage each time you’ve had a hard time hearing right after a concert. The more often it happens, the worse it gets.
- When it’s needed, use earplugs or earmuffs.
- Implement work hearing protection safeguards.
- Limit your exposure time to loud noises.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a poor idea in any setting.
- Some headphones and earbuds have built in volume control for a safer listening experience. They never go over 90 decibels. At that level, even constant, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for the majority of individuals.
- Even at lower levels, if you have low blood oxygen, high blood pressure, or are taking some common medication, you’re hearing could still be in danger. Always keep your headphones at or below 50%. Car speakers vary.
- If you have a hearing aid, wear it. The brain will begin to atrophy if you don’t use your hearing aid when you need it. It’s similar to your leg muscles. If you let them go, it will be difficult to get them back.
Get a Hearing Test
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Stop it. Be active about reducing further harm by recognizing your situation.
Consult Your Hearing Professional About Solutions For Your Hearing.
Hearing impairment has no “natural cure”. It may be time to get a hearing aid if your hearing loss is extreme.
Do a Comparison of The Cost of Investing in Hearing Aids to The Benefits
Many individuals who do recognize their hearing loss simply choose to cope with it. They think hearing aids make them look old. Or they think that they cost too much.
It’s easy to recognize, however, that when the negative effect on relationships and health will cost more in the long run.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing specialist. And you don’t need to worry that you appear old if you wind up requiring hearing aids. Todays hearing aids are sophisticated and state-of-the-art pieces of modern technology.