Many people believe that hearing loss only affects older people. That is simply not true. Now that smartphones and iPods are in the hands of almost every teenager and adult, we are starting to see more and more people with hearing loss at a younger age.
The reason is because it can be difficult to monitor how loud you’re playing music or other audio in your ears through your headphones or earbuds. And most people don’t know how damaging loud sounds can be to your ears, or how to protect yourself from its damaging effects. Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the most common causes of hearing loss and it’s completely preventable.
Don’t think hearing loss is a big deal?
Not only does hearing loss affect your communication and connection with the world, it can have other psychological effects, such as increased stress and even depression.
How does hearing loss increase stress levels?
Imagine sitting at the table at a dinner party, with music playing in the background, and multiple conversations going on around you. If you’re having difficulty hearing and following the conversations, it can be a very stressful situation. All of your brain’s resources are being used to help you concentrate on hearing. You’ll likely leave the dinner feeling exhausted and mentally drained. A situation that used to be enjoyable for you turns into a stressful evening.
Now imagine going throughout your day, in all the complex environments you come across…the subway station, the restaurant, the office. All of these situations can be stressful, particularly with hearing loss.
At this point, it will be very tempting to avoid some of these situations altogether. The weekly night out with the girls may become too stressful for you, to the point where you decide not to go.
Many people with hearing loss begin to change their lifestyle and avoid the social interactions they once had. This withdrawal and isolation can lead to depression, another hidden consequence of hearing loss.
It’s hard to believe that a hearing loss can have these negative effects on quality of life, but I see it occur every day, in the young and old alike. I hope knowing about these hidden consequences of hearing loss will help you think twice about how loud you play your music and start protecting your hearing now before it’s too late.
Dr. Lindsey Banks is an Audiologist and cares for people of all ages with hearing loss. She writes about all things related to hearing and hearing technology on her website EverydayHearing.com.