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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It’s Time To Silence All This Unwanted Noise

The banging is excruciating. So are the jack hammering and the sawing and the beeps from the trucks backing up. And it is all outside my door. Living in New York City has many advantages, but one significant downside is the noise. Not only are cars and buses rushing by on the streets at all hours, construction is happening almost everywhere. This month it came to my street, and it is expected to last for quite some time.

Leaving my apartment building now takes some extra navigating — do I take the long way around the block to avoid the noise or do I plug my ears and make a run for it. Neither choice is ideal. Even when I am inside I can hear the ongoing work. Thank goodness I have my noise-cancelling headphones at the ready if the cacophony becomes too much.

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Do You Cover Your Ears When Things Get Loud?

Sometimes I feel like I walk around with my fingers in my ears all the time. If it’s not the rat-tat-tat of jackhammers, the blaring sirens on a police car, or the beep-beep-beep of a truck that is backing up, it is the air brakes on the crosstown bus. Given my relatively strong high-pitched hearing, the sound of air brakes is the worst. Very painful.

Most of the time I don’t care about the stares that I get. Sometimes, although rarely, a passerby will plug his ears in solidarity. We usually exchange a smile and an eye roll as we wonder how things have gotten so loud!

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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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Back To School Time For Hearing Health

Several years ago, I joined my then first grade son in his classroom for Family Time, a monthly event where students could highlight something special about their family to the class. Most families brought in unique foods or led the children in cultural activities related to their ethnicity or country of origin, but we did something different. We brought in earplugs and talked to the class about taking care of their hearing. This was special for our family because of my hearing loss. You can read more specifics of our class visit here.

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