Using Earplugs Can Be Cool!

I am pleased to share an excerpt from my most recent article for Healthy Hearing

I remember the battles with my teenage son. He was heading to a loud dance party but was worried about wearing earplugs. He knows better than most of his peers how difficult hearing loss can be and how important it is to protect the hearing that he has, because I have hearing loss. Even so, he resisted wearing them. “My friends won’t be wearing them,” he complained, “They won’t get it. It’s just not cool to wear earplugs.” Despite his complaining, he chose to wear the earplugs and off he went to the loud party.

Like he imagined, he got lots of questions about his earplugs from his friends who were not used to seeing things in his ears. He showed them how loud the music was playing using a decibel reader app on his phone and explained that he wanted to protect his hearing.

What he didn’t expect was that his friends would want to wear them too! The music was so loud it was painful. Luckily he had brought some extra pairs so he could share them with his friends. Wearing earplugs had turned out to be cool after all!

While this story has a happy ending, the perception that wearing earplugs is not cool is a big problem, especially in today’s noisy world.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Loss Blog

How can we make wearing earplugs cool?

1. Encourage influential role models to speak out.

More musicians are wearing earplugs and touting the benefits of wearing them publicly. This includes alternative rock musicians like Chris Martin of Coldplay and classic rock icons like Eric Clapton. At a recent Adele concert, she went out of her way to compliment the children in the audience who were wearing earmuffs for hearing protection. This type of positive feedback from people with influence will help lower stigma and build awareness.

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Don’t Let Hearing Loss Keep You From Your Dreams

She took the stage shoeless, her back slightly turned to the audience as she used visual cues to coordinate with her band. She smiled slightly in anticipation of her performance, as if she were about to share a secret with the audience. The music started and she began to sing — her voice sweet and lyrical, gaining in strength as the song built energy. I couldn’t believe her skill and finesse — especially because she was doing it all without hearing a thing.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Loss Blog

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Why Don’t Doctors Routinely Screen for Hearing Loss?

I am proud to share my hearing loss story and tips on Hearing Tracker

Every year at my annual medical check-up, the doctor checks my height and weight, listens to my heart and takes my blood pressure. She scans my skin for any moles that might have changed, looks at my eyes, my ears and down my throat. She orders blood work, and sometimes even other tests, but never, not once, has she tested my hearing or even asked me about it.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Loss Blog

The same goes for my children at their annual check-up. Here the doctor does all of the above, plus a vision screening. But only upon request, will they do a cursory hearing test. Given my genetics, I request one for both of my children. Every year.

The lack of focus on hearing as an important part of one’s health is misguided and needs to change. Hearing loss is associated with many health problems, including depression, heart disease, diabetes, an increased likelihood of falls and even a higher risk of dementia. Identifying and treating hearing loss early could be a big help in lowering these risks, improving the quality of life for people with hearing loss, and reducing overall health care costs for us all.

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Partners In Hearing Workshop – Developing Tools To Better Navigate Hearing Loss

I recently attended a workshop hosted by The Ida Institute in Skodsborg, Denmark. Ida is a non-profit organization whose mission is to develop and integrate person-centered care in hearing rehabilitation. Ida is funded by The Oticon Foundation and collaborated on this workshop with Hearing Loss Association of America, The Ear Foundation, and Action On Hearing Loss.

Since its inception in 2007, Ida has periodically brought together groups of audiologists and related professionals to better define what patient-centered care means and to develop strategies and tools that audiologists can use to implement patient-centered care in their own practices. In the past year, Ida began inviting people with hearing loss into these discussions — a wonderful idea!

The workshop I attended, called Partners in Hearing — Learning Together, contained a mix of people with hearing loss, leading audiologists and representatives of patient organizations. I was thrilled to participate and hope that Ida will continue to include the patient perspective in future workshops.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Loss Blog

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When You Are The Friend With Hearing Aids

Some friends know all the good restaurants in town. Others know everything about the local sports teams. Some can even score you two tickets to the hottest new show. None of these is me. Instead, I am the friend with hearing aids.

If someone has trouble with his hearing or is having difficulty convincing a family member to give hearing aids a try, I am their first call. This is fine with me. In fact, I welcome it. I am proud to provide information and support to people starting on their hearing loss journey. I wasn’t so lucky. 

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