As we get older we tend to think that hearing loss only affects the older generation. Nearly all of us have had past experiences with older people struggling to comprehend conversations, or using hearing aids.
But just like 30 or 60 only seemed old to you up until it rapidly approached, when you learn more about hearing loss, you come to understand that it has much less to do with aging and far more to do with something else entirely.
Feeling old is the leading reason why people can’t admit they have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss Is an “Any Age Issue”
Even before we turn 13, audiologists already begin to detect some amount of hearing loss in 13% of cases. You’ll recognize, this isn’t because 12-year-olds are “old”. Teen hearing loss has increased 33% in the past 30 years.
What’s at work here?
Out of all 45 – 55-year olds, 2% presently suffer from debilitating hearing loss, and with 55 – 65-year-olds it’s 8%.
It’s not an aging problem. What you might think of as age-related hearing loss is actually 100% preventable. And you have the ability to dramatically reduce the progression of your hearing loss.
Age-related hearing loss, identified medically as sensorineural hearing loss, is most commonly brought on by noise.
For a long time people have assumed that hearing loss was just part of getting old. But presently, hearing doctors know more concerning exactly how to safeguard your hearing and even restore it.
The Reason why Loud Noise Causes Hearing loss
The first step to safeguarding your hearing is learning how something as “harmless” as noise causes hearing loss.
Sound is composed of waves of pressure. These waves travel into your ear canal. They travel all the way down beyond your eardrum and into your inner ear.
Here, tiny little hair cells in your inner ear vibrate. Which hair cells vibrate, and how rapidly or frequently they vibrate, become a neurological code. Your brain can render this code into crowd noise, traffic sounds, a warning alert, a scream or whatever else you may hear.
The trouble is that when sounds are too loud these little hairs are damaged beyond repair. They die because the vibrations get to be too loud for them to handle.
When these hairs are gone then so is your hearing.
Hearing Loss Caused by Loud Sound is not Reversible
If you cut yourself, the wound will heal. These little cells never heal. When they are gone, they are gone permanently. The more often you’re exposed to loud noises, the more tiny cells you lose.
As they die, hearing loss progresses.
Everyday Sounds Which Will Cause Hearing Damage
This is a unexpected fact for most people to learn. You may not question:
- Going to a concert/play/movie
- Wearing earbuds/head phones
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Mowing the lawn
- Using farm equipment
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Working in a factory or other loud industry
- Playing music in a band
These activities don’t need to be given up. The good thing is, you can take practical measures to minimize noise-related hearing loss.
You Don’t Need to Feel old Simply Because you Have Hearing Loss
If you’re already suffering from hearing loss, accepting it doesn’t need to cause you to feel older. The longer you neglect it, the worse it will get, and you will wind up feeling older much sooner because of:
- Increased Fall Risk
- Social Isolation
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Strained relationships
These are all substantially more common in people with neglected hearing loss.
Continued Hearing Loss can be Prevented
Understanding how to stop hearing loss is the first step.
- Put a sound meter app on your cell phone, and find out how loud common sounds really can be.
- Learn about harmful volumes. More than 85 dB (decibels) can cause permanent hearing damage in 8 hours. 110 dB takes around 15 minutes to cause irreversible hearing loss. 120 dB and higher causes instant hearing loss. A gunshot is around 140 to 170 dB.
- You should know that If you have ever had trouble hearing briefly immediately after a concert, you already caused permanent damage to your hearing. It will become more pronounced over time.
- Use earplugs and/or sound-dampening earmuffs when necessary.
- Observe work hearing protection regulations.
- Regulate your exposure time to loud sounds.
- Avoid standing near to loudspeakers or cranking speakers up at home.
- Purchase earbuds/headphones which come with integrated volume control. These don’t go over 90 decibels. You would have to listen practically non-stop all the time to do permanent damage.
- High blood pressure, not enough blood oxygen, and various medications can cause you to be more susceptible at lower volumes. To be safe, don’t ever listen to headphones at over 50%. Car speakers differ.
- Put on your hearing aid. Not wearing a hearing aid if you need them causes the brain to atrophy. It’s comparable to your leg muscles. If you stop walking, it will be much more difficult to start walking again.
Get a Hearing Test
Are you procrastinating or are in denial? Stop it. You need to know so that you can be proactive to decrease further damage.
Consult Your Hearing Professional Concerning Hearing Solutions
There are not any “normal cures” for hearing damage. If you have extreme hearing loss, it’s time to get a hearing aid.
Do a Cost-Benefit Comparison of Hearing Aids
Lots of sufferers are either in denial about hearing loss, or alternatively, they choose to “tough it out.” They think hearing aids will make them appear old. Or perhaps they believe they cost too much.
But when they realize that hearing loss will decline faster and can cause numerous health and relationship problems, it’s easy to be certain that the pros greatly outweigh the cons.
Consult a hearing care expert now about getting a hearing test. And if hearing aids are suggested, don’t worry about “feeling old.” Hearing aids today are much sleeker and more advanced than you may think!