When people talk about aging, the prospects of the body slowing down is always in the conversation. The same thing goes for the myriad of health issues that may sprout. Hearing loss is one of the most dreaded possibilities that may come with aging.
But did you know that people in their 20s can also lose their hearing? And what’s scarier is that you may begin to lose your hearing without even realizing it.
A recent CDC study noted that the hearing quality of 20% of people start to decline before they reach 30. But how exactly does it happen? What causes your hearing to falter even before you reach your prime?
Continue reading below for the answers:
What’s It All About?
What exactly is hearing loss? You can classify it into three categories. There is the conductive type, the sensorineural type, and the mixed type.
Conductive hearing loss happens when the sound cannot pass because of a blockage. This blockage takes place in the middle ear or the ear canal. Apart from blockage, sound may not pass if there are damages to the anatomical structures of the outer ear, middle ear, or the ear canal. Some of the key factors that cause conductive hearing loss include chronic ear infections, ear wax accumulation in the ear canal, and abnormal bone growth near the middle ear.
Meanwhile, sensorineural hearing loss occurs when there is damage to the inner ear. It may also happen when the damage involves the nerve running from the ear going to the brain. In some cases, people with brain damage may also develop this type of hearing loss.
As for the mixed type, it is a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.
Is Hearing Loss in Your 20s a Possibility?
Now for the biggest concern at hand: can you lose your hearing even if you’re still in your 20s? As we mentioned earlier, a recent study says so.
Medical experts note that too much noise coming from daily mundane tasks massively contributes to young people facing this predicament. Getting stuck in traffic with cars blowing horns or mowing the lawn can damage your hearing.
The same thing goes if you operate woodworking saws and other loud machinery.
Another alarming point is that the hearing issue affecting young people is tinnitus. Tinnitus involves a constant buzzing or ringing sound in the ears. Unfortunately, tinnitus is permanent, and it will only get worse in time.
Furthermore, tinnitus can contribute to stress. And stress can no doubt trigger high blood pressure and anxiety.
And of course, another possible cause for hearing loss at an early age is a one-time loud noise. This may come from a firecracker exploding close to you.
What Does It Feel (or Sound) Like?
Like older people whose hearing declines, young people also experience roughly the same symptoms. Young people noted hearing a bad case of mumbling whenever someone talks to them. This was the first sign that they noticed.
After some time, they found that the mumbling developed into silence. They can no longer hear what their friends were saying whenever they were talking behind.
As for the other key symptoms, you may experience sound registering louder in one ear. You may also hear male voices easier compared to female voices. You may also find it hard to hear people talking to you in noisy areas.
Watching the Signs
Though hearing loss may be irreversible, it doesn’t mean you cannot manage it. But management starts with identifying the tell-tale signs.
Aside from the ringing in your ears, keep watch if you keep asking people repeatedly if they tell you something. Also, check if you’re struggling to pinpoint where certain sounds come from. This is most evident if you are in a crowded place.
And if you often listen to music or watch the news and you keep on turning up the volume, this may also be a sign that your hearing is starting to falter.
Another tell-tale sign to look out for is vertigo. If you experience vertigo or the sensation that your environment around you is spinning or moving quite often, it may be a symptom of hearing loss.
Do you often experience ear infections? Or perhaps you notice wax buildup too often than usual? These should prompt you to take a hearing test.
Additionally, if you feel itchiness in your inner ear too often, it may also be a sign that hearing loss is just around the corner.
What You Can Do
Recognizing the symptoms of hearing loss is the first step. But what happens next is crucial if you wish to slow down its progression. Though hearing loss may be permanent, there are ways to manage it.
One of the best options of “restoring” your hearing is wearing hearing aids. A hearing aid is a small electronic device that you wear inside or behind your ear. It helps you hear certain sounds louder. A hearing aid can help increase the sound that you hear when communicating with someone. It also increases your hearing when watching TV or listening to your favorite music. Also, a hearing aid can work in both quiet and noisy environments.
Interestingly, there are many options available out there. And since your hearing is essential, do not hesitate to invest in a good one. And if aesthetics matter to you, you can go for some of the best invisible hearing aids in the market.
Another option, albeit complex and expensive, are cochlear implants. These are neuroprosthetic devices that doctors surgically implant on patients with extensive sensorineural hearing loss.
But the best way of dealing with hearing loss especially if you’re still in your 20s is prevention. Protect your ears by avoiding noise exposure. If loud machines are fixtures in your workplace, wear a pair of plastic earplugs. And limit going to loud concerts and the use of power tools.
Dealing with hearing loss regardless of age is something you cannot take for granted. It is best to talk to an ear specialist to get the appropriate treatment. But caring for your ears is only one of the many aspects you need to cover.
Keep your health in check by reading our other articles on health. We discuss topics that will help you maintain a healthy and balanced life.