When you were younger, you most likely considered hearing loss a consequence of aging. Older adults around you were probably wearing hearing aids or having a difficult time hearing.
But just like 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 getting old and much more to do with something else.
Here is the one thing you should understand: It doesn’t mean that you’re old just because you acknowledge you have hearing loss.
Hearing Loss is a Condition That Can Happen at Any Age
By the age of 12, audiologists can already identify some hearing loss in 13% of cases. You’ll agree, this isn’t because 12-year-olds are “old”. Teenage 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 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 typically thought of as “age related hearing loss”. And you have the ability to dramatically decrease its advancement.
Noise exposure is the most common cause of age associated or “sensorineural” hearing loss.
Hearing loss was, for years, assumed to be an inevitable part of aging. But protecting and even repairing your hearing is well within the scope of modern science.
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 progress past your eardrum into your inner ear.
Here, little hair cells in your inner ear oscillate. The intensity and speed of these vibrations will then encode a neurological signal. Your brain can convert this code into words, running water, a car horn, a cry or anything else you may hear.
But these hairs can vibrate with too much intensity when the inner ear receives sound that is too intense. This level of sound damages these hairs and they will eventually die.
When these hairs are gone you won’t be able to hear.
Why Noise-Activated Hearing Loss is Permanent
Wounds such as cuts or broken bones heal. But when you damage these little hair cells, they don’t heal, and they never grow back. Over time, as you expose your ears to loud noise, more and more of these hairs die.
As they do, hearing loss worsens.
Common Noises That Damage Hearing
Many people are shocked to discover that common activities can cause hearing loss. You may not think twice about:
- Driving on a busy highway with the windows or top down
- attending a concert/play/movies
- Mowing the lawn
- Going to a noisy workplace
- Playing in a band
- Using farm equipment
- Turning up the car stereo
- Riding a motorcycle/snowmobile
- Wearing head phones/earbuds
You don’t have to give up these things. Thankfully, you can take protective steps to limit noise-induced hearing loss.
How to be Certain That You Don’t “Feel” Older When You Have Hearing Loss
If you’re currently suffering from hearing loss, acknowledging it doesn’t need to make you feel old. As a matter of fact, you will feel older much sooner if you fail to recognize your hearing loss due to complications like:
- Strained relationships
- Increased Fall Risk
- Social Isolation
- More frequent trips to the ER
These are all substantially more prevalent in people with untreated hearing loss.
Reduce Further Hearing Injury
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.
- Be familiar with harmful levels. Over 85 dB (decibels) can lead to irreversible hearing loss in 8 hours. Lasting 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 level of a gunshot.
- Understand that you’ve already triggered irreversible hearing damage every time you’ve had a difficult time hearing right after a concert. The more often it occurs, the worse it gets.
- Wear earplugs and/or sound-canceling earmuffs when necessary.
- Follow work hearing protection rules.
- Regulate your exposure time to loud sounds.
- Refrain from standing near loudspeakers or cranking up speakers at home.
- Get earbuds/headphones that have integrated volume control. They have a 90 dB limit. At that level, even nonstop, all day listening wouldn’t cause hearing damage for the majority of individuals.
- Some medications, low blood oxygen, and even high blood pressure can make you more susceptible at lower levels. To be safe, never listen on headphones at over 50%. Car speakers vary.
- Wear your hearing aid. The brain will start to atrophy if you don’t wear your hearing aid when you need it. It works the same way as your muscles. If you stop making use of them, it will be difficult to begin again.
Schedule an Appointment to Have a Hearing Exam
Are you in denial or just putting things off? Stop it. You have to accept your hearing loss so that you will take measures to reduce further harm.
Talk to Your Hearing Professional About Hearing Loss Solutions
Hearing impairment has no “natural cure”. It may be time to invest in 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 are either in denial concerning hearing loss, or they decide to “tough it out”. They think hearing aids make them look old. Or they assume they cost too much.
But when they comprehend that hearing loss will worsen faster and can cause numerous health and relationship challenges, it’s easy to recognize that the pros well surpass the cons.
Schedule a hearing test with a hearing professional. And if hearing aids are advised, don’t worry about “feeling old”. Hearing aids nowadays are significantly sleeker and more sophisticated than you may believe!