A few months ago a guest blogger, Jenny Harrison, wrote a wonderful article called “Naturally Improving Your Hearing.” This blog has consistently been the most visited page on my website, indicating that the topic resonates with many people. I don’t doubt it. There is something about hearing loss that affects us deeply. Jenny offered some suggestions for naturally reducing the risk of hearing loss, including:
1. Avoiding accumulation of earwax
2. Avoiding loud music and noises, and
3. Exercising your ears.
I refer you to the blog to read more about what Jenny has to say: http://www.bartastor.com/1/post/2013/05/naturally-improving-hearing-loss-can-you-naturally-improve-your-hearing.html.
Loss of hearing is something not to be ignored. About 30 million Americans suffer from hearing loss in both ears, and the incidence of hearing loss increases with age. Hearing loss has a huge impact on our lives: it basically cuts us off from people. You can literally watch someone tune ouf of conversations when they get tired of saying, “What?” all the time. Imagine the isolation you wold feel. Imagine how easy it would be to just withdraw. Although there is no rational justification for the stigma of being hearing impaired, hearing loss seems to affect people emotionally, and they resist admitting they’re suffered a hearing loss.
How do you know you are losing your hearing? You can watch for signs:
But the truth is you won’t know unless a specialist tests your hearing. If your doctor suspects hearing loss, it’s likely you will be referred to an audiologist, a licenses professional who is not a doctor but who can perform a hearing evaluation. If your doctor suspects something more serious than just hearing loss due to aging, you’ll likely be referred to an “otolaryngologist,” a medical doctor specializing in diseases of the ear.
I recall many years ago writing an article about getting a hearing test. I guess I was about 50 or so. I made an appointment with an audiologist so I could go through the actual experience. I’m sure somewhere along the lines you’ve had one of these tests. You know, “Press this button when you hear a tone.” I remember feeling so incredibly anxious for this test. I jumped on the button the second I heard anything through my headphones. I not only wanted to pass the test, I wanted to ace it! How weird is that?
Turns out, it’s not weird at all. The audiologist told me, “Relax, this isn’t like Jeopardy. You don’t get points for doing it first. And you don’t get graded by how quickly you respond.”
Apparently a lot of us, when we are getting our hearing tested, get nervous. We don’t want to feel old, and we know that a loss of hearing is a sign of aging. Well, certainly it is. But it’s also not. And given that most of us have spent countless years with music blasting in our ears, especially more recently with the very prevalent use of earbuds, it’s a wonder we’re not all deaf.
So I wrote up the article and included all that stuff about my anxiety and wanting to be the first to press the button. When I sent it to the editor, she wrote back, “This is good, but I don’t think we need to put in all that personal feeling about anxiety.” She didn’t get it. I learned later that she was pretty young, in her 20’s or 30’s. Of course she didn’t get it. She had no idea that she would age. But I bet most of you who are reading this do get it. You understand that a loss of hearing is not anything like losing some of your vision. Many people need glasses and there’s no stigma attached to that. Even young people need vision correction. But hearing aids? That’s strictly for old people, right?
I’m a bit older now and had another hearing test because I was experiencing vertigo. A symptom to be concerned about when you have vertigo is some loss of hearing. It could mean a serious issue. When I took the test, I was nervous. But not about feeling or being labeled old. This time, it was about whether there was any loss of hearing and if so, whether it meant I could have a problem. And I didn’t jump to press the button the split second I heard a tone.