Your Hearing Loss Is Unique, And So Is Mine

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Every hearing loss is unique. Each like a snowflake with its own nuances and sharp edges. Its own beauty and challenges. Some of us hear high frequencies better, while others detect only low sounds. Certain of us lipread or use sign language, but not all of us do. We all have different tolerances, lifestyles, and capacities. And varying degrees of residual hearing. This diversity makes hearing loss difficult to explain, and very hard for people without hearing loss to understand. 

Adding complexity, each hearing situation is also unlike many others. Some places have lots of background noise, while others are quiet. Certain speakers enunciate and project their voices, but many mumble or cover their mouth with their hands. Distractions like the A/C running or the sirens of a passing fire truck add to the mix. This can make it necessary to utilize different hearing solutions in each situation. Another thing that can baffle the uninitiated who expect hearing aids alone to work well in all settings.

My hearing loss is atypical. I hear high pitches almost perfectly, but sounds in the speech range frequencies give me trouble. This helps me detect many important sounds on the speech banana, like the consonants “s, th, and f,” but I miss critical vowel sounds like “a, o and u.” Given my loss, I usually hear women and children better than I understand male voices. My audiologist calls this a reverse slope hearing loss, which she tell me is harder to treat than the more common pattern of higher pitch losses.

Each of my hearing loss friends has unique challenges as well. One cannot hear out of her left ear at all, while another hears constant noise (tinnitus) in one ear. Some of us have hearing losses that are moderate, or even mild, while others suffer with severe or profound losses. One can lipread almost anyone, while another struggles.

We are all coping with different shades of the same problem, but our community brings us together as one. Like individual snowflakes when they fall to earth as snow.

Your hearing loss is unique. And so is mine. There are no shortcuts. No one size fits all solutions. Each person’s hearing loss is distinct, yet we are all made stronger when acting as part of the larger hearing loss community, sharing tips and support. Thank you for being a part of this one. 

Readers, what makes your hearing loss unique?

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18 thoughts on “Your Hearing Loss Is Unique, And So Is Mine”

  1. I also have a progressive bilateral reverse slope hearing loss, which has been posed difficulties for audiologists to fit. In the 25 years i have been seeing my audiologist in a busy, hospital-affiliated practice, they have only see two or three of us come through their doors! I have been told it is something like 1% of all people with hearing loss have reverse slope, which is why there has not been much research and development for hearing aids that address it – there is just no profit in it. I feel lucky I have found a good practitioner that has been willing to put in the time and effort to work with me as it is challenging for both of us.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      So glad you found someone who is helping you with this. Definitely a challenge! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thanks for reading Tom!

  2. Hi Shari

    I have an age related hearing loss according to the last ENT doctor I saw. I was 58 at the time, soon to be 60.

    My loss kind of not unique as I’m following the path of my late father and grandfather with their hearing losses.

    At the moment my loss is mild/moderate. My hearing is better in low frequencies and gets worse through the mid and high frequencies so unlike yourself I struggle to hear women and children and any background noise can be a hearing nightmare.

    Is it unique? Well, yes in that I’ve done something about it.

    I’m not a great lip reader and would like to develop the skill further. I’m considering learning to sign before my remaining hearing deteriorates to the point where that becomes difficult to learn, but I have got hearing aids!

    That’s unique given that there are thousands if not millions in denial about their hearing loss when help is so readily available and has made a huge difference to my life.

    Ian

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Good point! I am so glad you are treating your hearing loss. It makes all the difference. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

  3. Jerry Henderson – Pownal Maine – Thank you for coming to my space. This is where I post thoughts, opinions and commentary on a variety of subjects at irregular intervals. I try to do something weekly, but have not nailed down a rigid schedule, like every Wednesday, yet. If you would like email notifications of new posts, you can make that happen right on the site. Simply enter your email address to subscribe. Also, if you would like to comment I welcome that. Just do so in the space at the bottom of any selected post. Sharing thoughts, opinion and commentary is a peculiarly human characteristic. It must be exercised to be enjoyed. Jerry Henderson
    Jerry Henderson says:

    Hi Shari. My sense of uniqueness is more like an affective disorder in that at times, when my resistance is low or things are not going just right, I “feel” unique in an unhealthy way much like the Biblical character Job who thought he was the last of the faithful and therefore was having a major “pity party” all by himself.

    There are many times more than 50 shades of hearing loss and we can each claim at least one of them for ourselves. I think this is one reason for associating with others who have hearing loss. It gives us the sense that though we experience hearing loss in our unique way, understanding that others are dealing with the exact same dynamics and issues as we are somehow comforts and encourages.

    It’s like – I’m a snowflake, are you a snowflake too?

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      I agree! Finding other snowflakes can help us feel much less alone. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  4. I have profound loss , I don’t hear high frequencies well but low frequencies are amplified fairly well with a hearing aid so I’m that lucky ” snowflake “to be able to survive somehow in the hearing world , with plenty of perseverance of course !! I also have developed amazing lip reading skills all these years which is a blessing . But with aging and working all day on a pc , my eyes tire a lot faster now and I can’t push them as much . Plus with other physical issues that tend to crop up as we age, it makes having hearing loss and tinnitus a lot harder to cope with.
    But with all hardships and struggles , you learn to see the bright side of things and I thank GOD for giving me courage to endure what’s ahead . (Smile!!)

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      I love your positive attitude. It is so important for dealing with challenges. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  5. I really identified with this entry in your blog Shari. I don’t know how many times I’ve been given well meaning advice, or someone thinks that a cochlear implant is a solution for anyone with a hearing loss. I also am learning now that as I am getting older – when I get really tired, I am less emotionally able to engage and find listening a lot harder (with hearing aids of course). Thanks for such an insightful essay!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for adding your perspective.

  6. Hi Shari, my hearing loss is unique because it comes from Meniere’s disease. I have tinnitus in both ears and 1 hearing aid which is not enough but making due and happy I have it. I have severe loss but it keeps getting worse I have had Meniere’s for 30 years. Thank you for your blogs they truly help.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  7. tonybars84 – I led a pretty typical life until January 2016 when I suffered an autoimmune attack that nearly took my life. Luckily my life was spared, but I lost much of my hearing. Aside from that fun fact, I'm a 33 year old with 2 beautiful young girls, a great wife and a yappy dog.
    tonybars84 says:

    I,too, have a reverse slope hearing loss and know the challenges that come with it. Male voices, phones, soft speakers, drive thru speakers, are all very difficult. Women and kids are easy to hear. I guess it works out that I have two daughters.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Exactly! Thanks for sharing your story.

  8. hi Shari Eberts first I want to thanks to you for writing this wonderful blog i am finding myself straining to hear in crowded places or saying “What did you say” can i need audiologist

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      If you are having trouble hearing you should definitely see an audiologist to get your hearing tested. Then you will know if you need to take action or not. Thank you for reaching out.

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