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 having a difficult time hearing.
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 aging and much more to do with something else.
Here 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 “Any Age Issue”
By 12 years old, audiologists can already detect some hearing loss in 13% of cases. Obviously, you aren’t “old” when you’re 12. Teenage hearing loss has risen 33% in the past 30 years.
What’s happening here?
Disabling hearing loss has already set in for 2% of individuals between 45 and 55 and 8% of people between the ages of 55 and 64.
Aging isn’t the problem. You can 100% avoid what is generally thought of as “age related hearing loss”. And you have the power to dramatically minimize its advancement.
Age-associated hearing loss, known medically sensorineural hearing loss, is most commonly caused by noise.
For generations hearing loss was thought to be inescapable as you get older. But protecting and even repairing your hearing is well within the grasp of modern science.
How Hearing Loss is Triggered by Noise
Step one to protecting your hearing is learning how something as “harmless” as noise causes hearing loss.
Sound is composed of waves. These waves go into your ear canal. They arrive at your inner ear after passing your eardrum.
Inside your inner ear are very small hair cells which vibrate when sound impacts them. The intensity and speed of these vibrations will then encode a neurological signal. Your brain is able to convert 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 stop working.
When these hairs are gone you won’t be able to hear.
Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Irreversible, Here’s Why
If you cut yourself, the wound heals. But these little hair cells won’t heal or grow back. The more often you’re subjected to loud noise, the more tiny hair cells die.
Hearing loss gets worse as they do.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Many people are shocked to find out that daily activities can lead to hearing loss. These things might seem totally harmless:
- Cranking up the car stereo
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Using farm equipment
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
- Lawn mowing
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Going to a concert/play/movies
- Being a musician
- Using head phones/earbuds
You don’t need to give up these things. Luckily, you can minimize noise induced hearing loss by taking some preventative measures.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Older
Admitting you have hearing loss, if you’re already dealing with it, doesn’t need to make you feel old. The truth is, failing to acknowledge it can doom you to faster development and complications that “will” make you feel a lot older in only a few years like:
- More frequent trips to the ER
- Social Isolation
- Increased Fall Risk
- Strained relationships
For people with neglected hearing loss these are much more common.
Ways You Can Avoid Further Hearing Damage
Start by understanding how to avoid hearing loss.
- So that you can find out how loud things actually are, download a sound meter app.
- Learn when volumes get hazardous. In under 8 hours, permanent hearing loss can be the result of volumes above 85dB. 110 dB takes about 15 minutes to trigger lasting hearing loss. 120 dB and over causes instant hearing loss. 140 to 170 dB is the average volume of a gunshot.
- Realize that you’ve already triggered irreversible hearing damage each time you’ve had a hard time hearing right after a concert. It will become more severe over time.
- When it’s needed, wear earplugs or earmuffs.
- When it comes to hearing protection, adhere to any guidelines that pertain to your circumstance.
- If you need to be exposed to loud noises, restrict your exposure time.
- Steer clear of standing close to loudspeakers or turning speakers up at home.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have integrated volume control. They never go over 90 decibels. At that level, even nonstop, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for most people.
- Some medications, low blood oxygen, and even high blood pressure can make you more susceptible at lower levels. Always keep your headphones at or below 50%. Car speakers will vary and a volume meter app can help but when it comes to headphones, 50% or less is best policy.
- Wear your hearing aid. Not using hearing aids when you require 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.
Make an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you procrastinating or in denial? Stop it. Be active about reducing further damage by recognizing your situation.
Contact Your Hearing Specialist About Solutions For Your Hearing.
There aren’t any “natural cures” for hearing loss. It could be time to get a hearing aid if your hearing loss is extreme.
Do a Cost to Benefit Analysis of Investing in Hearing Aids
Many people who do acknowledge their hearing loss just choose to cope with it. They think hearing aids make them look old. Or they assume they cost too much.
But when they recognize that hearing loss will worsen faster and can cause numerous relationship and health challenges, it’s easy to recognize that the pros well outnumber the cons.
Speak with a hearing care specialist today about getting a hearing test. And you don’t have to worry that you appear old if you end up needing hearing aids. Hearing aids at present are significantly sleeker and more advanced than you may believe!