When you were younger, you most likely considered hearing loss a result of getting old. You likely had older adults in your life trying to understand words or wearing hearing aids.
When you’re young, getting old seems so distant but as time passes you begin to realize that hearing loss is about a lot more than aging.
You need to understand this one thing: It doesn’t mean that you’re old just because you acknowledge you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is an “Any Age Problem”
By 12 years old, audiologists can already detect some hearing loss in 13% of cases. Obviously, your not “old” when you’re 12. Teenage hearing loss has risen 33% in the last 30 years.
What’s at work here?
Debilitating 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. What you may think of as age-related hearing loss is 100% avoidable. And you have the power to significantly decrease its development.
Age-related hearing loss, known medically sensorineural hearing loss, is typically caused by noise.
For generations hearing loss was thought to be unavoidable as you get older. But these days, science knows more about how to protect your hearing and even repair it.
How Noise Causes Hearing Loss
Learning how noise causes hearing loss is the first step in safeguarding hearing.
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 that vibrate when sound hits them. The intensity and speed of these vibrations will then encode a neurological signal. Your brain is able to translate this code into words, running water, a car horn, a cry or whatever else you might hear.
But these hairs can vibrate with too much intensity when the inner ear receives sound that is too intense. The sound shakes them to death.
Without them, you won’t be able to hear.
Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Permanent, Here’s Why
If you cut yourself, the wound heals. But when you damage these little hair cells, they cannot heal, and they cannot grow back. Over time, as you expose your ears to loud sounds, more and more of these hairs die.
As they do, hearing loss worsens.
every day Noises That Cause Hearing Damage
Most people don’t know that hearing loss can be caused by every day noises. You might not think twice about:
- Using head phones/earbuds
- Running farm equipment
- Working in a factory or other loud profession
- Putting the windows or top down on a busy highway
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Cranking up the car stereo
- Being a musician
- Going to a movie/play/concert
- Lawn mowing
You can continue to do these things. Thankfully, you can take protective steps to minimize noise-induced hearing loss.
How to Keep Hearing Loss From Making You “Feel” Older
If you’re currently suffering from loss of hearing, acknowledging it doesn’t have to make you feel older. As a matter of fact, failing to acknowledge it can doom you to faster development and complications that “will” make you feel much older in just a few years like:
- Social Isolation
- Increased Fall Risk
- Strained relationships
- More frequent trips to the ER
For people with neglected hearing loss these are a lot more prevalent.
Ways You Can Avoid Further Hearing Problems
Recognizing how to prevent hearing loss is the first step.
- In order to find out how loud things actually are, get a sound meter app.
- Learn about hazardous volumes. In less than 8 hours, permanent hearing loss can be caused by volumes over 85dB. Irreversible hearing loss, at 110 dB, occurs in over 15 minutes. 120 dB and over causes instantaneous hearing loss. A gunshot is 140 to 170 dB.
- Realize that you’ve already triggered permanent 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 will become.
- When it’s necessary, use earmuffs and/or earplugs
- When it comes to hearing protection, adhere to any safeguards that pertain to your situation.
- If you have to be exposed to loud sounds, regulate the exposure time.
- Standing too close to loudspeakers is a bad idea in any situation.
- Some headphones and earbuds have built in volume control for a safer listening experience. They have a 90 dB upper limit. At that level, even nonstop, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for the majority of people.
- High blood pressure, low blood oxygen, and some medications can make you more vulnerable at lower levels. Always keep your headphones at or below 50%. Car speakers will fluctuate and a volume meter app can help but when it comes to headphones, 50% or less is best policy.
- If you have a hearing aid, use it. The brain will begin to atrophy if you don’t use your hearing aid when you require it. It’s a lot like your leg muscles. If you let them go, it will be hard to get them back.
Schedule an Appointment to Have a Hearing Test
Are you putting things off or in denial? Stop it. Be active about reducing further harm by recognizing your situation.
Consult Your Hearing Specialist About Solutions For Your Hearing Loss.
There aren’t any “natural cures” for hearing impairment. It might be time to get a hearing aid if your hearing loss is severe.
Do a Comparison of The Cost of Getting Hearing Aids to The Benefits
Lots of people who do acknowledge their hearing loss simply decide to cope with it. They don’t want people to think they are old because they wear hearing aids. Or they think that they cost too much.
But when they realize that hearing loss will get worse faster and can cause many relationship and health complications, it’s easy to recognize that the pros well outweigh the cons.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing specialist. And you don’t have to worry that you look old if you end up requiring hearing aids. Hearing aids today are significantly sleeker and more sophisticated than you may think!