As you got older, you probably began to connect hearing loss with aging. You probably had older adults in your life trying to comprehend words or wearing hearing aids.
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 find it has less to do with getting old and much more to do with something else.
This is the one thing you should know: Admitting that you have hearing loss doesn’t make you old.
Hearing Loss is an Ailment That Can Happen at Any Age
By the age of 12, audiologists can already detect some hearing loss in 13% of cases. Clearly, your not “old” when you’re 12. In the last 30 years, hearing loss in teenagers has risen by 33 %.
What’s the reason for this?
2% of 45 – 55-year-olds and 8% of 55 – 64 year-olds already suffer from debilitating hearing loss.
It’s not an aging issue. What you probably think of as age-related hearing loss is 100% preventable. And reducing its development is well within your power.
Age-related hearing loss, clinically known as sensorineural hearing loss, is usually a result of noise.
Hearing loss was, for years, considered to be an inevitable part of aging. But nowadays, science knows more about how to safeguard your hearing and even repair it.
How Noise Leads to Hearing Loss
The first step to protecting your hearing is recognizing how something as “innocuous” as noise causes hearing loss.
Waves are what sound is made of. The canal of your ear receives these waves. They progress down past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Here, tiny hair cells in your inner ear vibrate. The speed and intensity of these vibrations then encode a neurological signal. Your brain can translate this code into words, rushing water, a car horn, a cry or anything else you may hear.
But these hairs can vibrate with too much intensity when the inner ear gets sound that is too loud. This level of sound destroys these hairs and they will eventually die.
When these hairs die you can no longer hear.
Why Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Permanent
Wounds such as cuts or broken bones heal. But these little hair cells don’t heal or grow back. The more often you’re exposed to loud sounds, the more little hair cells die.
Hearing loss gets worse as they do.
every day Noises That Cause Hearing Damage
Many people are surprised to find out that daily activities can result in hearing loss. These things might seem perfectly harmless:
- Using farm equipment
- Being a musician
- Using head phones/earbuds
- Turning up the car stereo
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Going to a concert/play/movies
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Lawn mowing
You can keep on doing these things. Fortunately, you can take proactive actions to limit noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Make Sure You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
If you’re currently suffering from hearing loss, admitting it doesn’t need to make you feel older. Actually, you will feel older a lot sooner if you fail to acknowledge your hearing loss because of complications like:
- Strained relationships
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Increased Fall Risk
- Social Isolation
For individuals with untreated hearing loss these are substantially more prevalent.
Ways You Can Avoid Further Hearing Problems
Begin by understanding how to prevent hearing loss.
- Get a sound meter app on your phone. Find out how loud things actually are.
- Learn about harmful levels. Above 85 dB (decibels) can cause permanent hearing loss in 8 hours. 110 dB takes about 15 minutes to cause lasting hearing loss. 120 dB and over brings about immediate hearing loss. A gunshot is 140 to 170 dB.
- Recognize that If you’ve ever had difficulty hearing for a while after a concert, you’ve already induced lasting damage to your hearing. The more often it happens, the worse it gets.
- When it’s necessary, wear earmuffs and/or earplugs
- When it comes to hearing protection, adhere to any guidelines that pertain to your situation.
- Reduce your exposure time to loud sounds.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a poor idea in any situation.
- Some headphones and earbuds have on-board volume control for a safer listening experience. They never go above 90 dB. At that volume, 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 50% or less. Car speakers vary.
- If you have a hearing aid, use it. Not wearing hearing aids when you need them causes the brain to atrophy. It’s a lot like your leg muscles. If you stop using them, it will be difficult to start again.
Have a Hearing Exam
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Stop it. Be active about reducing further harm by acknowledging your situation.
Talk to Your Hearing Specialist About Hearing Solutions
Hearing impairment has no “natural cure”. If hearing loss is severe, it could be time to invest in a hearing aid.
Do a Comparison of The Cost of Investing in Hearing Aids to The Benefits
Many people who do acknowledge their hearing loss simply decide to cope with it. They don’t want people to think they look old because they wear hearing aids. Or they are afraid that they won’t be able to afford them.
But when they realize that hearing loss will get worse faster and can cause many health and relationship challenges, it’s easy to recognize that the pros well outweigh the cons.
Speak with a hearing care professional today about getting a hearing exam. And you don’t have to be concerned that you look old if you end up needing hearing aids. Modern hearing aids are stylish and state-of-the-art pieces of modern technology.