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.
I love my Apple Watch. It not only helps me tell the time, it also keeps me connected to the people that I love by alerting me to texts and calls that I might otherwise miss when I don’t hear my phone. It can remind me of upcoming appointments and to stand up every hour to get some exercise. With the recent launch of WatchOS 6, it has a new trick — protecting my hearing.
The newly launched Noise app measures the environmental sounds around you and alerts you when things get dangerously loud. I often pull up a decibel reader app on my phone to measure noise when the background buzz gets to be too much, but with this app — it happens automatically. It doesn’t record or save the sounds, but it does keep the measurement levels, allowing me to revisit my exposure over the past day or week or month via the Health app on my phone. Pretty cool.
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.
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.
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!