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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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.

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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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