How To Travel When You Have Hearing Loss

I recently traveled to Cuba as part of a people-to-people cultural exchange program organized by Insight Cuba. It was a magnificent trip full of art, beauty, learning, eye-opening experiences and Cuban cigars. I highly recommend a visit if you have the opportunity and interest.

Before the trip I was concerned that my hearing loss would make things more challenging. Accents and unfamiliar words in a new language are always difficult for me to follow. I promised myself that I would advocate for myself to optimize my chances for good communication, but that I would also manage my frustration if I was not able to hear everything. Much of traveling can be enjoyed by simply taking a look around, and that was my plan, barring any catastrophes.

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How To Survive A Public Restroom When You Have Hearing Loss

I have been flying a lot lately, which means plenty of time in airport bathrooms. Many have made huge strides in cleanliness and a large number are now more eco-friendly, but they have also gotten louder – dangerously so in some cases. 

If it is isn’t the deafening swoosh of the self-flushing toilets, it is the new high-speed hand dryers running perpetually. Both are high-pitched sounds, so for someone like me with relatively strong high-pitched hearing, the volumes are excruciating. What is a hearing aid wearing traveler to do? 

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Should You Be Worried About Your Children’s Hearing?

Can you hear your child’s music even though they are wearing headphones? Do they need to remove their earbuds to hear what you are saying to them? Are they listening to loud music for several hours a day? If one or more of these are true, your children could be damaging their hearing.

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Listen Up Teens — While You Still Can

Are you looking for a way to talk to your teens about hearing loss? You should be. One in five teens now suffers from hearing loss, most of which is noise-induced, which is 100% preventable. It is hard to get through to teens who often feel physically invincible and more concerned with peer pressure than parental guidance. Yet, they need to understand the serious risks. Hearing damage is irreversible. There is no cure.

Here’s a letter I used with my children. Feel free to share it with your own.

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5 Places You Frequent That Could Be Damaging Your Hearing

Everyone knows rock concerts are loud. That is part of the experience. I don’t go to too many concerts anymore, because of my hearing loss. But when I do, I use strong protections against the noise — I mute my hearing aids and use noise-cancelling headphones. Believe it or not, I can usually still hear the music just fine! As I look around the concert, I see some people wearing earplugs or earmuffs too. I wish there were more. Perhaps they don’t understand the risks.

Prolonged exposure to any sound at or above 85 decibels can cause gradual hearing loss, and once your hearing is damaged, it is permanently impaired. Loud noise exposure kills the delicate cells inside the cochlea of the inner ear, and once they are gone, they do not grow back. Loud noises can also cause tinnitus, the sensation of buzzing or ringing in your ears when no sound is present. You may have experienced this after a particularly loud night out. Sometimes it goes away, but with increased exposure, it can become permanent. Mine is.

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