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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An Interesting App To Make TV Watching Easier For People With Hearing Loss

Watching TV can be a challenge for people with hearing loss. In my home, I have things set up just the way I want them. I use a sound bar that enhances speech over background noise and always watch with closed captions. But when I am elsewhere, it can be trickier. People are sometimes resistant to putting on the closed captioning or don’t know how to work that feature on their particular television set. The acoustics are often not ideal either, especially if the TV is far across the room like in a waiting room or hotel room. In the exhibit hall at HLAA’s 2018 Convention, I discovered a new tool that might help.

Living With Hearing Loss | A Hearing Loss Blog

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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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Hearing Loss — The Forgotten Problem

This week I share a school project written by my son. The assignment was to write about a cause that is important to you and then deliver a speech about it to the class. He is in 7th grade. While not every detail is perfect in his talk, his experience growing up with a mom who has hearing loss shines through in bright detail. I am so proud of his efforts to raise awareness about hearing loss and love his suggestions for how his peers can help. 

I share his speech below, lightly edited.

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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.

Click here to continue reading on Hearing Tracker.

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