As you got older, you likely began to connect hearing loss with getting old. Older adults in your life were probably wearing hearing aids or struggling to hear.
But just like 30 or 60 only seemed old to you until it fast approached, 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 understand: It doesn’t make you old just because you acknowledge you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an Ailment That Can Occur 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. Teen hearing loss has increased 33% in the past 30 years.
What’s happening here?
Debilitating hearing loss has already set in for 2% of people 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 generally thought of as “age related hearing loss”. And you have the ability to significantly minimize its advancement.
Noise exposure is the most common cause of age associated or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
For generations hearing loss was assumed to be unavoidable as you get older. But today, science understands more about how to safeguard your hearing and even repair it.
How Noise Leads to Hearing Loss
Step one to protecting your hearing is understanding how something as “harmless” as noise causes hearing loss.
Waves are what sound is made of. These waves travel into your ear canal. They progress past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Inside your inner ear are very small hair cells which oscillate when sound strikes them. The intensity and speed of these vibrations then encode a mental signal. Your brain is able to translate this code into words, running water, a car horn, a cry or anything else you might hear.
But these hairs can move with too much force when the inner ear gets sound that is too intense. This level of sound destroys these hairs and they will eventually fail.
when they’re gone, you can’t hear.
Why Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Irreversible
If you cut yourself, the wound heals. But these tiny hair cells won’t grow back or heal. The more often you’re subjected to loud sounds, the more little hair cells fail.
As they do, hearing loss worsens.
every day Noises That Damage Hearing
Many people are surprised to find out that daily activities can cause hearing loss. You might not think twice about:
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Cranking up the car stereo
- Riding a snowmobile/motorcycle
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Using farm equipment
- Lawn mowing
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Using head phones/earbuds
- Playing in a band
You don’t have to quit these activities. Thankfully, you can take protective steps to reduce noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Old
If you’re currently suffering from loss of hearing, acknowledging it doesn’t need to make you feel older. The truth is, failing to accept it can doom you to faster development and complications that “will” make you feel much older in only a few years like:
- Strained relationships
- Social Isolation
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Increased Fall Risk
For individuals with untreated hearing loss these are a lot more common.
Reduce Further Hearing Damage
Understanding how to avoid hearing loss is the first step.
- In order to find out how loud things actually are, download a sound meter app.
- Know about harmful levels. In under 8 hours, irreversible damage can be the result of volumes over 85dB. Lasting hearing loss, at 110 dB, happens in over 15 minutes. Instant hearing loss occurs at 120dB or higher. A gunshot is between 140 to 170 dB.
- Know that If you’ve ever had trouble hearing for a while after going to a concert, you’ve already caused permanent harm to your hearing. It will become more pronounced as time passes.
- When it’s required, wear earplugs or earmuffs.
- When it comes to hearing protection, implement any rules that apply to your circumstance.
- If you have to be exposed to loud noises, regulate your exposure time.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a poor idea in any setting.
- Some headphones and earbuds have built in volume control for a less dangerous listening experience. They never go over 90 decibels. Most people would need to listen nearly continuously all day to cause permanent damage.
- Even at lower volumes, if you have low blood oxygen, high blood pressure, or are taking some common medication, you’re hearing could still be in peril. To be safe, do not listen on headphones at over 50%. Car speakers vary.
- Wear your hearing aid. Not wearing hearing aids when you require them leads to brain atrophy. It’s similar to your leg muscles. If you let them go, it will be hard to get them back.
Have a Hearing Exam
Are you putting things off or in denial? Don’t do it. You have to acknowledge your hearing loss so that you can take measures to reduce further harm.
Consult Your Hearing Professional About Solutions For Your Hearing Loss.
Hearing impairment does not have any “natural cure”. If hearing loss is severe, it might be time to invest in a hearing aid.
Do a Cost-Benefit Analysis of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of people who do acknowledge their hearing loss just decide to cope with it. They don’t want people to think they are old because they wear hearing aids. Or they assume that they cost too much.
It’s easy to see, however, that when the adverse effect on relationships and health will cost more over time.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing specialist. And if hearing aids are recommended, don’t be concerned about “feeling old”. Modern hearing aids are sophisticated and state-of-the-art pieces of modern technology.