When you were younger, you most likely thought of hearing loss as a result of getting old. Older adults in your life were probably wearing hearing aids or having a difficult time hearing.
In your youth, getting old seems so distant but as time goes by you begin to recognize that hearing loss is about a lot more than aging.
You need to realize this one thing: It doesn’t make you old just because you acknowledge you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is a Condition That Can Take Place at Any Age
By the age of 12, audiologists can already detect 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 increased by 33 %.
What’s the cause of this?
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 may think of as age-related hearing loss is 100% preventable. And you have the power to significantly reduce its advancement.
Noise exposure is the most prevalent cause of age associated or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for decades, thought to be an inescapable part of aging. But these days, science understands more about how to safeguard your hearing and even repair it.
How Hearing Loss is Triggered by Noise
Step one to protecting your hearing is recognizing how something as “innocuous” as noise results in hearing loss.
Waves are what sound is made of. The canal of your ear receives these waves. They reach your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
Inside your inner ear are tiny hair cells that vibrate when sound hits them. The speed and intensity of these vibrations will then encode a neurological signal. Your brain is able to translate this code into words, running water, a car horn, a cry or anything else you may hear.
But when the inner ear is exposed to sounds that are too intense, these hair cells move too rapidly. This level of sound destroys these hairs and they will eventually fail.
When these hairs are gone you won’t be able to hear.
Why Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Permanent
Wounds like cuts or broken bones will heal. But when you impair these tiny hair cells, they don’t heal, and they never regenerate. Over time, as you expose your ears to loud sounds, more and more of these hairs die.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
Common Noises That Damage Hearing
Most people don’t recognize that hearing loss can be caused by noise we hear every day. You might not think twice about:
- Playing in a band
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Mowing the lawn
- Turning the car stereo way up
- Running farm equipment
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- Going to a concert/play/movies
You don’t need to quit these activities. Fortunately, you can take protective actions to minimize noise-induced hearing loss.
How to be Certain That You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
Admitting you have hearing loss, if you already suffer from it, doesn’t have to make you feel old. As a matter of 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:
- Increased Fall Risk
- Strained relationships
- Social Isolation
- More frequent trips to the ER
For people with neglected hearing loss these are substantially more common.
Stop Further Hearing Damage
Start by knowing how to avoid hearing loss.
- Download a sound meter app on your smartphone. Determine how loud things really are.
- Learn about hazardous levels. Over 85 dB (decibels) can lead to permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. Permanent hearing loss, at 110 dB, takes place in about 15 minutes. 120 dB and above will cause instant hearing loss. 140 to 170 dB is the average level of a gunshot.
- Know that If you’ve ever had trouble hearing for a while after a concert, you’ve already caused permanent damage to your hearing. It will become more obvious as time passes.
- When it’s required, wear earplugs or earmuffs.
- Implement work hearing protection safeguards.
- If you have to be exposed to loud sounds, limit the exposure time.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a poor idea in any situation.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have built in volume control. They never go over 90 dB. At that volume, even nonstop, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for the majority of individuals.
- Even at lower volumes, if you have low blood oxygen, high blood pressure, or are taking some common medication, you’re hearing may still be in danger. Always keep your headphones at 50% or less. Car speakers vary.
- If you have a hearing aid, use it. The brain will start to atrophy if you don’t use your hearing aid when you require it. It’s a lot like your leg muscles. If you stop utilizing them, it will be hard to start again.
Schedule an Appointment to Have a Hearing Exam
Are you in denial or simply putting things off? Don’t do it. You have to acknowledge your hearing loss so that you can be proactive to reduce further damage.
Contact Your Hearing Professional About Solutions For Your Hearing.
There are no “natural cures” for hearing impairment. It might be time to invest in a hearing aid if your hearing loss is extreme.
Do a Cost to Benefit Analysis of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of people who do recognize their hearing loss simply decide to deal with it. They think hearing aids make them seem old. Or they are worried that they won’t be able to afford them.
It’s easy to recognize, however, that when the adverse effect on health and relationships will cost more over time.
Schedule a hearing exam with a hearing professional. And if hearing aids are advised, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Hearing aids today are much sleeker and more advanced than you may believe!