When you were younger, you most likely thought of hearing loss as a result of getting old. You likely had older adults around you struggling to understand words or wearing hearing aids.
But just like 30 or 60 only seemed old to you until it started to catch up to you, as you become more aware about hearing loss, you find it has less to do with the aging process and much more to do with something else.
You need to realize this one thing: Acknowledging that you have hearing loss doesn’t mean that you’re old.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Problem”
By the age of 12, audiologists can already see some hearing loss in 13% of cases. You’ll agree, this isn’t because 12-year-olds are “old”. Teenage hearing loss has increased 33% in the last 30 years.
What’s the reason for this?
Disabling hearing loss has already set in for 2% of people between the ages of 45 and 55 and 8% of people between 55 and 64.
Aging isn’t the problem. You can 100% avoid what is normally thought of as “age related hearing loss”. And you have the ability to dramatically decrease its advancement.
Age-associated hearing loss, known medically sensorineural hearing loss, is most commonly a result of noise.
Hearing loss was, for many years, assumed to be an inevitable part of aging. But today, science understands more about how to protect your hearing and even restore it.
How Noise Causes Hearing Loss
Recognizing how noise causes hearing loss is the first step in protecting hearing.
Waves are what sound is made of. The canal of your ear receives these waves. They arrive at your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
Here, little hair cells in your inner ear oscillate. Which hair cells oscillate, and how rapidly or frequently they vibrate, becomes a neurological code. Your brain then translates this code into sound.
But when the inner ear is exposed to sounds that are too intense, these hair cells move too fast. The sound vibrates them to death.
When these hairs are gone you won’t be able to hear.
Why Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Irreversible
Wounds such as cuts or broken bones heal. But these little hair cells won’t grow back or heal. Over time, as you expose your ears to loud noise, more and more of these hairs fail.
As they do, hearing loss worsens.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These Common Noises
Many people are shocked to learn that daily activities can lead to hearing loss. You may not think twice about:
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Playing in a band
- Lawn mowing
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Using earbuds/head phones
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Going to a concert/play/movies
- Using farm equipment
- Cranking up the car stereo
You can keep doing these things. Luckily, you can take proactive measures to minimize noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Old
If you’re currently suffering from hearing loss, admitting it doesn’t have to make you feel old. As a matter of fact, you will feel older much sooner if you fail to acknowledge your hearing loss because of complications like:
- Increased Fall Risk
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Strained relationships
- Social Isolation
For people with neglected hearing loss these are a lot more prevalent.
Prevent Further Hearing Damage
Begin by understanding how to avoid hearing loss.
- So that you can figure out how loud things really are, get a sound meter app.
- Find out when volumes get dangerous. In less than 8 hours, permanent damage can be the result of volumes above 85dB. 110 dB takes around 15 minutes to cause lasting hearing loss. Immediate hearing loss occurs at 120dB or higher. A gunshot is between 140 to 170 dB.
- Understand that you’ve already caused irreversible hearing damage every time you’ve had a difficult time hearing right after going to a concert. The more often it occurs, the worse it gets.
- Use earplugs and/or sound-dampening earmuffs when necessary.
- When dealing with hearing protection, implement any rules that apply to your situation.
- Reduce your exposure time to loud noises.
- Steer clear of standing close to loudspeakers or cranking up speakers at home.
- Some headphones and earbuds have on-board volume control for a less dangerous listening experience. They never go over 90 dB. At that volume, even nonstop, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for most people.
- High blood pressure, low blood oxygen, and some medications can make you more vulnerable at lower levels. To be safe, do not listen on headphones at over 50%. Car speakers vary.
- Use your hearing aid. The brain will begin to atrophy if you don’t wear your hearing aid when you need it. It’s a lot like your leg muscles. If you let them go, it will be hard to get them back.
Get a Hearing Examination
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Stop it. Be proactive about reducing further harm by acknowledging your situation.
Talk to Your Hearing Specialist About Hearing Loss Solutions
Hearing loss has no “natural cure”. If hearing loss is severe, it could be time to get a hearing aid.
Do a Cost to Benefit Comparison of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of people are either in denial about hearing loss, or they decide to “just deal with”. They believe that hearing aids make them look old. Or they assume they cost too much.
But when they comprehend that hearing loss will get worse faster and can cause numerous health and relationship complications, it’s easy to see that the pros well outnumber the cons.
Talk to a hearing care specialist today about having a hearing test. And if hearing aids are recommended, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Todays hearing aids are sophisticated and state-of-the-art pieces of modern technology.