As you got older, you likely started to connect hearing loss with getting old. You likely had older adults around you struggling 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 aging and much more to do with something else.
This is the one thing you should understand: Acknowledging that you have hearing loss doesn’t make you old.
Hearing Loss is a Condition That Can Take Place at Any Age
In 13% of cases, audiologists can already see hearing loss by age 12. Needless to say, your not “old” when you’re 12. Teen hearing loss has gone up 33% in the last 30 years.
What’s the cause of this?
Disabling hearing loss has already developed for 2% of individuals between the ages of 45 and 55 and 8% of people between the ages of 55 and 64.
It’s not an aging problem. You can 100% prevent what is generally thought of as “age related hearing loss”. And reducing its progression is well within your ability.
Age-associated hearing loss, known medically sensorineural hearing loss, is typically a result of noise.
Hearing loss was, for many years, assumed to be an inevitable part of aging. But these days, science knows more about how to protect your hearing and even restore it.
How Hearing Loss is Triggered by Noise
Understanding how noise results in hearing loss is step one in safeguarding hearing.
Sound is composed of waves. Your ear canal receives these waves. They go past your eardrum into your inner ear.
In your inner ear are very small hair cells which vibrate when sound hits them. The speed and intensity of these vibrations will then encode a neurological signal. Your brain then converts this code into sound.
But these hairs can oscillate with too much force when the inner ear receives sound that is too loud. The sound vibrates them to death.
Without them, you can’t hear.
Why Noise-Induced Hearing Loss is Permanent
Wounds like cuts or broken bones will heal. But these little hair cells don’t heal or grow back. Over time, as you expose your ears to loud noise, more and more of these hairs fail.
Hearing loss worsens as they do.
Hearing Damage Can be Caused by These every day Noises
Most people don’t know that hearing loss can be caused by every day noises. You may not think twice about:
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Running farm equipment
- Cranking up the car stereo
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
- Being a musician
- Lawn mowing
You can continue to do these things. Fortunately, you can take proactive steps to reduce noise-induced hearing loss.
How to be Certain That You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
Acknowledging that you have hearing loss, if you already suffer from it, doesn’t have to make you feel old. Actually, you will feel older a lot sooner if you fail to acknowledge your hearing loss because of complications like:
- Strained relationships
- Increased Fall Risk
- Social Isolation
- More frequent trips to the ER
These are all significantly more common in individuals with untreated hearing loss.
Ways You Can Prevent Additional Hearing Damage
Understanding how to avoid hearing loss is the first step.
- Download a sound meter app on your phone. Discover how loud things really are.
- Find out when volumes become harmful. Above 85 dB (decibels) can cause irreversible hearing loss in 8 hours. Irreversible hearing loss, at 110 dB, occurs in over 15 minutes. Immediate hearing loss occurs at 120dB or higher. 140 to 170 dB is the average volume of a gunshot.
- Know that If you’ve ever had trouble hearing temporarily after going to a concert, you’ve already generated permanent damage to your hearing. The more often it occurs, the worse it gets.
- Wear earplugs and/or sound-dampening earmuffs when appropriate.
- When it comes to hearing protection, adhere to any safeguards that apply to your circumstance.
- If you have to be exposed to loud sounds, regulate your exposure time.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a poor idea in any situation.
- Some headphones and earbuds have built in volume control for a safer listening experience. They never go over 90 dB. At that level, even nonstop, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for most people.
- 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 peril. To be safe, you should never listen on headphones at over 50%. Car speakers vary.
- If you have a hearing aid, use it. Not using hearing aids when you require them results in brain atrophy. It works the same as your muscles. If you stop utilizing them, it will be hard to begin again.
Make an Appointment to Have a Hearing Exam
Are you in denial or just putting things off? Don’t do it. Be active about reducing further harm by acknowledging your circumstance.
Talk to Your Hearing Professional About Hearing Solutions
There aren’t any “natural cures” for hearing loss. It may be time to invest in a hearing aid if your hearing loss is severe.
Do a Cost to Benefit Comparison of Investing in Hearing Aids
Lots of people who do acknowledge their hearing loss simply choose to deal with it. They don’t want people to think they look old because they wear hearing aids. Or they are concerned that they won’t be able to afford them.
But when they realize that hearing loss will worsen faster and can cause many health and relationship challenges, it’s easy to recognize that the pros well surpass the cons.
Talk to a hearing care professional right away about having a hearing exam. And you don’t have to worry that you appear old if you end up requiring hearing aids. Hearing aids at present are much sleeker and more advanced than you may think!