Hearing Loss: Sometimes You Just Have to Leave the Party

The music was blaring. People were covering their ears. I had turned my hearing aids off but could still feel the bass reverberating through my body. Why did anybody think this would be a good setting for a reunion of board members — most of them in their 50s and 60s? I wasn’t sure, but most people were just trying to survive — shouting to one another to be heard or attempting to move to a quieter spot for discussion. Some danced rather than make any attempt at conversation or just focused on eating in silence.

I was miserable. I couldn’t effectively converse with anyone — lipreading can only take you so far, and I kept worrying if the constant noise was further damaging my hearing — even with my hearing aids turned off and acting as earplugs in my ears. I didn’t want to be anti-social or miss the “fun” but I knew I had to get out of there.

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Does Hearing Loss Make You Sensitive To Loud Sounds?

Does your hearing loss make you sensitive to loud sounds? My latest article for FindHearing.com, discusses how I handle my sensitivity to noise with the use of noise-cancelling headphones. What solutions have you found? See an excerpt of the piece below.

“We can’t hear you! “Let’s make some noise!” the announcer shouts over the loudspeaker. “Louder! Louder! Louder!” the crowd erupts, yelling in time with the flashing sign on the score board. Everyone is enjoying cheering for the home team. My family happily joins in the ruckus, but I am hunched over covering my ears with discomfort, until I whip out the noise-cancelling headphones I brought for this purpose. Relief. I enjoy attending outdoor sporting events — I just wish they were not so clamorous! Thank goodness I had come prepared this time.

Protecting Your Hearing Should Be Routine

At the sporting event I describe above, the crowd was filled with families of all ages. My handy decibel reader app told me the noise was fluctuating between 80 and 95 decibels. Anything at 85 decibels or greater can cause hearing damage when experienced over an extended period of time. At 100 decibels, the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) recommends no more than 15 minutes of unprotected exposure.

Almost nobody was wearing hearing protection, save thankfully, for some of the infants. The toddlers and young children had their hands pressed up to their ears or were burying their faces into their parents’ chests. They seemed to instinctually know that it was too loud. The adults seemed unfazed. Perhaps the children’s inner ears are more sensitive or maybe they were simply not embarrassed to find the noise overwhelming.

Click here to continue reading on FindHearing.com. 

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My Hearing Aids Boost My Confidence

I am pleased to share my hearing loss story and tips on the newly launched site — FindHearing.com.  See an excerpt below.

My left ear has been acting up — increased pressure from seasonal allergies led to excess fluid, making my hearing aid unwearable for a few days until my ear dries out. It is a frustrating situation — I can’t hear on one side so I feel lopsided and out-of the-flow. It is hard to tell where sounds originate and the constant tinnitus in my hearing-aid-less-ear is a nuisance. Thank goodness this situation is only temporary.

Among the many challenges, the worst part is feeling less self-assured. At my yoga studio this morning, I briefly greeted my fellow students, but quickly retreated into a pre-class savasana to avoid conversation. I thought about cancelling lunch with a friend, but decided to fess up about being down one ear today instead. I feel low-energy, shy, and less poised. My self-confidence has taken a dip.

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Does Your Tinnitus Worsen in the Winter?

My tinnitus spiked this weekend in my left ear offering a steady buzz like an electrical hum, accompanied by a reduction in my hearing and some dizziness. At first I wondered if my hearing aid was making the sound, but when I removed it, the disturbance grew louder since it was no longer obscured by ambient noise. I knew then that the sound was of my own invention — taking up unwanted residence in my ears and mind. Meditation usually helps me keep my tinnitus under control, but sometimes pesky noise still breaks through.

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Hearing Loss & The Irony Of The Entertainment Business

“Goodbye yellow brick road,” Elton John belted out the title song of his final concert tour. My family rarely attends concerts — given my hearing loss I worry about damaging it further — but we are big Elton John fans and could not bear to miss our last chance to see him perform live. The sold out show in Madison Square Garden was outstanding with the crowd singing along to its favorite oldies but goodies. My family and I were able to enjoy the performance because we came prepared with hearing protection and the knowledge of how to use it. You can read my tips for attending a concert in my article, “How To Enjoy a Concert Safely When You Have Hearing Loss.”

As we made our way to our seats, the irony dawned on me. We were not allowed to smoke, to bring in outside food or drink, or even use caps on our plastic water bottles (I guess they think people will throw them?!?), but we could blast our ears with 110 decibel sound for 3 hours without any rules stating otherwise. There was not even a posted sign suggesting we protect our hearing with earplugs or ear muffs. Something seemed wrong with that.

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