Hearing Health Facts

Did You Know . . . ?

We usually focus on one topic per blog, but today we thought we’d bring you some interesting, fun and outright weird facts about your ears and hearing.

did you know

  1. Our sense of hearing is unique because it is completely mechanical! Our other senses rely on chemical reactions to achieve their goals.  When sound waves hit our ear, it vibrates our eardrum, which then tickles our cochlea.  If our nose is a Tesla car, then our ears would be a 1960’s Chevy Pickup.
  2. There is a chain of three tiny bones in your middle ear(known as ossicles), which also happen to be the tiniest bones in your entire body. These are commonly known as the anvil, hammer, and stirrup bones. The stirrup is the tiniest of these at only roughly 3mm. That’s half the size of a pencil eraser!
  3. Speaking of pencil erasers, that is about the same diameter of your ear canal (6mm). Sound waves enter your ear canal and vibrate the eardrum. This causes the bones in your ear to move against the cochlea, which then triggers the auditory nerve. That’s how your brain senses sound.
  4. There are thousands of super tiny hairs deep inside of your inner ear!These hairs take the vibrations made by sound waves and convert them into electrical signals to the brain. Unfortunately, these hairs don’t have a follicle which would allow them to grow back. Once they are damaged, they cannot repair themselves, resulting in hearing loss.
  5. Ears are a self-cleaning organ. As new earwax builds up in your ear, it pushes the old earwax outwards. In fact, digging in your ear with Q-Tips or other objects can cause more harm than good. That’s because it can push back the earwax, causing a blockage in the ear canal. You should wait until wax is visible in the outer ear, and then wipe it out with a finger wrapped in a damp washcloth.
  6. Earwax is actually a great thing!It protects your ears by collecting dust and debris and pushing it back out. Earwax also protects your ears from irritation caused by water, bacteria and fungi infections. Earwax is also a natural bug repellant, which helps keep the bugs out.
  7. Each ear hears a little different. Your right ear is more efficient at listening to speech and the sound of voices, while your left ear is better suited for listening to music.  If you wear a single ear bud to listen to music at work, try putting it in your left ear.  This will allow your right ear to pick up your co-workers voices better.
  8. You have crystals in your ears! This bit of trivia might sound odd at first, but deep inside your inner ear, there are tiny calcium crystals, known as otoconia.  These sit in the otolith organs and play a huge role in your sense of balance.
  9. Exposure to loud noises (85+ decibels; e.g. lawn mowers, rock concert) over a long period of time is the number one cause of hearing loss.However, a single loud blast (140+ decibels; e.g. jet engine, 12ga shotgun) can instantly cause permanent hearing damage. Typically, ear pain will start to develop at around 125 decibels.
  10. Your ears are always on, even while you are asleep.Your mind just chooses to ignore the sounds. A study done in 2012 shows that a person can learn to associate specific sounds while asleep. This has the potential to help find more efficient ways of learning.  Imagine learning these facts about hearing, but not remembering how you learned them.
  11. Your ears don’t just hear, they also help you balance!The inner ear has three small loops called the semicircular canals. These loops are filled with a liquid and have thousands of tiny hairs which act like a motion sensor. As your head moves, the fluid sloshes around and tells your brain what position you are in. Learn more about how our ears help us balance.

  12. The human ear can detect most sound frequencies, but they have their limits.The typical human frequency range is 20Hz to 20,000Hz, but our brains register anything above that as a buzzing or ringing noise. Your dog has a frequency range of 40Hz to 60,000Hz. That is why they can hear a dog whistle when we do not hear anything at all. 
  13. High altitude affects your sense of hearing and balance.The Eustachian tube that connects your ears and nose cannot maintain equal pressure on both sides of your eardrum fast enough at high altitudes. This results in a vacuum behind the eardrum, which makes your ears feel blocked, sounds to be muffled, and possibly some disorientation.

  14. Soundwaves hit your ear at 1,125 feet per second (or 343 meters per second)!It would take a noise loud enough to travel 1 mile approximately 5 seconds to reach your ear.  Tack on another 0.025 seconds for your brain to process that sound, and it will still only take roughly 5 seconds to hear that sound from a mile away.
  15. Your eardrums are actually cone-shaped, not flat like a musical drum. They also never grow any larger from birth. A newborns eardrum is the same size as an adult, which is roughly the size of a dime. It moves less than a billionth of an inch in response to sound.
  16. Your ears can change your sense of taste.Your sense of smell is still more power at changing your sense of taste.  However, the nerves from your tongue pass through your middle ear. People with ear infections, or who have had ear surgery, mention their sense of tastes had changed.
  17. Dogs have about 18 muscles in their ears!Puppies are also born deaf!  It takes a few weeks for their ear canals to open up.  They also use their ears as an element of body language.  Ears pulled back indicate friendliness, while ears up and forward indicate aggression.  Okay, so we couldn’t resist adding a few doggy fun facts, too.
  18. Headphones greatly increase bacteria growth in your ears.That’s because you are blocking natural air flow, which creates the perfect environment for bacteria to grow. Headphones also increase earwax buildup because it blocks wax from naturally falling out of your ear.  Let your ears breathe after every 20 minutes!
  19. You are not actually hearing the ocean when you listen to a seashell. You already knew that wasn’t a real fact, though.  Did you know it is actually the sound of blood traveling through the veins in your ears?  The sound is very similar to the ocean, though.  Coincidence? Yeah, more than likely.

  20. Your ear has a pretty sweet self-defense mechanism! There is a muscle in your ear called the Tensor Tympani.  When you start chewing food, it tenses up and pulls the tiny malleus (hammer) bone gently against your eardrum.  This helps dampen the loud chewing going on just below your ears!  It also causes the rumbling sound many people hear while yawning.
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Hearing Loss and Overall Health

Hearing Aids Linked to Fewer Hospital and ER Visits by Older Adults

Many older adults with severe hearing loss don’t have hearing aids, but those with them typically use less costly types of health care, a new study finds.

Elderly HAs are preventive

In the new paper in JAMA Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery, a team from the University of Michigan analyzed data from 1,336 adults ages 65 to 85 who reported severe hearing loss.

Strikingly, the researchers found that only 45 percent of those in the study actually use a hearing aid, despite having serious difficulty hearing. The rate is lower still among those with low incomes or less education, those who are African-American or Hispanic and who live in the Southern U.S.

After the researchers factored out these differences, they found that older adults with a hearing aid were less likely to have gone to a hospital or emergency room in the past year. The difference was about 2 percentage points — not a major difference but large enough to be statistically significant.

Among those who had been hospitalized, individuals with hearing aids had shorter stays than those who didn’t, averaging a half-day less in the hospital.

And those with hearing aids were 4 percentage points more likely to have had an office-based physician visit in the past year and had a higher number of such visits than those without hearing aids. Office-based visits are much less costly than emergency visits and hospital stays.

“This is the first study to show an association between hearing aid use and how older people use the health care system.”

Elham Mahmoudi, Ph.D.

Impact despite lack of coverage

The association of hearing aid use to lower-cost care is especially striking given the lack of insurance coverage for the devices, the authors say. Hearing loss is one of the most common conditions among those over age 65.

 “Traditional Medicare doesn’t cover hearing aids at all, Medicare Advantage plans may cover them but often ask members to share the cost at a high level, and only about half of states offer some Medicaid coverage for the lowest-income patients,” says Elham Mahmoudi, Ph.D., MBA, lead author of the new study and a health economist in the Department of Family Medicine at the U-M Medical School. “As the debate over expanding coverage continues, we hope this research and our future work will help inform the discussion.”

The findings, based on self-reported accounts of a single year of health care use, don’t show a cost savings overall for those who have invested in a hearing aid. That is unlikely to be visible in a cross-section of data such as this, Mahmoudi says.

In fact, those with hearing aids reported spending about $325 more out-of-pocket than those without, and $1,125 higher spending overall, compared with those who had hearing loss but no hearing aids. The total Medicare spending reported by both groups was about the same.

The new study is based on self-reported health care use and costs, gathered through the  Medical Expenditure Panel Survey conducted by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The data also included self-reported health conditions. That people who have hearing aids were also less likely to have chronic illnesses such as diabetes and high blood pressure may have had something to do with these chances of using costlier services, according to an editorial commenting on the new paper. This difference could also indicate that hearing aids allow individuals to lead more active and healthy lives, researchers hypothesize.

Next steps

To take a long-term look at the same issue, Mahmoudi and her colleagues are studying five years’ worth of private insurance data from IHPI, and anonymous data from patients treated at Michigan Medicine.

By studying documented costs and health care use over multiple years, they hope to determine whether hearing aids are cost-effective — if the initial spending on a device actually pays off in lower costs from other forms of health care for the same patient.

Mahmoudi’s experience with her father’s hearing loss and the experience of two of her co-authors informed the study. Michael M. McKee, M.D., MPH, and Family Medicine chair Philip Zazove, M.D., also worked on the study; both have hearing loss and use cochlear implants.

Mahmoudi’s father, who is in his 80s, didn’t use a hearing aid to offset his hearing loss until she helped him navigate the process of getting a hearing exam and getting the hearing aid fitted and adjusted. The expense and the need for several office visits to adjust the device’s settings, make getting a hearing aid a complex undertaking.

But, she notes, other studies have found that hearing loss can cause adults to feel isolated, make them less likely to communicate effectively with family and health providers both in and out of the hospital, and is associated with worse overall health.

 “This is the first study to show an association between hearing aid use and how older people use the health care system,” says Mahmoudi. “If we look over a longer period, it may be that the cost of the hearing aid may be covered by the difference in use of health care. That remains to be seen. But hearing loss is something that a lot of people experience and it can be overcome in most cases. So cost effectiveness may be only one way to measure whether insurance coverage for hearing aids is the right thing to do.”


The original article can be found here:
https://labblog.uofmhealth.org/rounds/hearing-aids-linked-to-fewer-hospital-and-er-visits-by-older-adults

Hearing Health Facts, Hearing is Life, Hearing Loss and Overall Health

Hearing Health: Nutrition and Development

We all know that food like fruits, vegetables, whole grain, dairy and protein are an important part of a healthy diet. Did you know that they are also crucial to healthy development in children and adolescents, including their hearing?

 

hearing health and nutrition

A healthy diet is crucial – even to hearing!

A balanced diet along with exercise helps to maintain a healthy body weight, and reduces the risk of developing serious health conditions later in life.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) says poor nutrition in childhood can lead to an increased risk for the development of health conditions like high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis . . . and now even hearing loss.

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that young adults who suffered from poor nutrition in early childhood were twice as likely to suffer hearing loss as their peers.

That’s a pretty high risk!

Researchers at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health analyzed the relationship between the nutritional levels and hearing health of 2,200 young adults in Nepal. These young adults had already been part of a nutrition trial conducted between 1989 and 1991 when they were young children. Researchers tested their hearing from 2006 to 2008 and found that those who were too short or too thin for their age were twice as likely to show signs of hearing loss.

In the case of stunted growth, researchers suspect poor nutrition impedes inner ear development, beginning in the womb. As for underweight caused by malnutrition, researchers hypothesize this raises the risk for developing ear infections. Chronic ear infections can cause hearing loss.

“Our findings should help elevate hearing loss as a still-neglected public health burden, and one that nutrition interventions in early childhood might help prevent,” Keith West Jr., a professor of International Health at the Bloomberg School and the principal investigator of the study said in a February 8th Science Daily release. West said there are more than 160 million undernourished children in the Gangetic region of South Asia, a condition which puts them at high risk for health and developmental problems.

Here in the United States, poor nutrition early in life is often a result of food insecurity, or the inability of a family to afford enough food for all its members. According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), just over 12 percent of American households were food insecure in 2016 due to a lack of resources, and the level of food insecurity is closely tied to economic and demographic factors.

According to the USDA, at times during the year, these households were uncertain of having, or unable to acquire, enough food to meet the needs of all their members because they had insufficient money or other resources for food. Food-insecure households include those with low food security and very low food security.

For Americans who don’t face these challenges it boils down to poor choices.

Poor nutrition can be a result of choice or lack of knowledge. According to the CDC, empty calories from added sugars and solid fats account for 40 percent of daily calories for children and adolescents age 2-18 years of age. Most youth do not meet daily fruit and vegetable recommendations or drink the recommended amount of water.

Modeling good health habits for your family can help your children and grandchildren develop healthy habits of their own and stave off hearing loss due to poor nutrition.  Eat a balanced diet, get the proper amount of exercise, protect your hearing from exposure to loud or excessive noise, and schedule regular checkups with your Audiologist.

As always, we welcome anyone who wishes to come to us for their audiological needs. Feel free to call us at (718) 745-2826.  We accept most insurance.

If you live out of the area, your insurance provider can steer you in the direction of an audiologist who accepts your insurance. Call the number on the back of your insurance card.

Sources:

https://www.ers.usda.gov/topics/food-nutrition-assistance/food-security-in-the-us/key-statistics-graphics.aspx

https://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/

https://www.ers.usda.gov/amber-waves/2017/september/understanding-the-prevalence-severity-and-distribution-of-food-insecurity-in-the-united-states/

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180208162020.htm

https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/107/2/268/4840587

Hearing Health Facts, Hearing is Life

Hearing Aids: Separating Myth from Fact

Whether you haven’t been tested and want to get answers, or you have been tested and your answer is “get hearing aids,” we’d be more than happy to help you to to bust the myths and get the facts.  We have locations in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. Give us a call! (718) 745-2826

Hearing aids - Myth vs Fact

Many people have misconceptions about hearing loss. We’re here to set the record straight with some hearing health facts.

 

I.

Myth: Hearing aids make your hearing normal again.

Fact: Hearing aids do not return your hearing to “normal.” They cannot “cure” your hearing loss, but they can help you listen and talk with others. Hearing aids can make your quality of life better.

II.

Myth: You can save time and money by buying hearing aids online or in a store.

Fact: You can find hearing aids online or in a store. But, it is hard to know if they are the right aids for you. Not every aid works for every person, just like the same glasses will not help everyone see. An audiologist can help. He will test your hearing and talk with you about the problems you have. He can make sure that the hearing aid you get will work for you. It may cost a little more, but you will know that the aids are the ones for you.

III.

Myth: A hearing aid will damage your hearing.

Fact: A hearing aid that fits you, that is programmed for your hearing loss, and that you take care of will not hurt your hearing.

IV.

Myth: You do not need a hearing aid if you have a mild hearing loss.

Fact: Everyone’s hearing loss and listening needs are different. Some people with a mild hearing loss do fine without aids. Others find that a hearing aid makes a big difference. It’s important to keep in mind is that a loss of hearing that is unchecked/untreated is hearing loss that can continue to decline.

V.

Myth: You do not need to wear two hearing aids.

Fact: You normally hear with two ears. Wearing binaural, or two-eared, hearing aids helps you in many ways. It lets you figure out where sounds come from, called localization. It helps in noisy places and makes sounds more natural. Wearing two aids may make it easier to understand what others say, and can play a part in balance.

VI.

Myth: The small hearing aids that you wear inside your ear canal are the best hearing aids to buy.

Fact: There are a number of hearing aid styles. All are high quality, or “state of the art” and many are too small to see. The in-the-canal hearing aids are nice because others cannot see them. However, they do not work for everyone. You need to buy a hearing aid that meets your hearing and listening needs. An audiologist can help you figure out which aid you need.

Whether you haven’t been tested and want to get answers, or you have been tested and your answer is “get hearing aids,” we’d be more than happy to help you to to bust the myths and get the facts.  We have locations in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. Give us a call! (718) 745-2826

Hearing Health Facts, Hearing Loss and Overall Health

Subtle Hearing Loss While Young Could Open Door To Dementia

Subtle hearing loss while young changes brain function, study finds

Early damage could open door to dementia, lead author says


COLUMBUS, Ohio – Cranking up your headphones or scrambling for a front-row spot at rock shows could be damaging more than your hearing.

New research from The Ohio State University has found that young people with subtle hearing loss – the kind they aren’t even aware of – are putting demands on their brains that typically wouldn’t be seen until later in life.

“Hearing loss, even minor deficits, can take a toll in young people – they’re using cognitive resources that could be preserved until much later in life,” said lead researcher Yune Lee, an assistant professor of speech and hearing science at Ohio State. “Most concerning, this early hearing loss could pave the way for dementia.”.

Lee and his collaborators recruited healthy men and women who were 18 to 41 years old so that they could monitor their brain activity while the subjects listened to various sentences. The structure of the sentences varied in difficulty because the researchers wanted the 35 participants’ brains to have to work harder to comprehend some of the messages.

The original study was designed to look just at brain differences when sentence complexity increased – something that is possible with use of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), technology that allows scientists to measure and map brain activity.

But the research team stumbled upon a surprising discovery. Before the fMRI tests, the researchers tested participants’ hearing to make sure there weren’t any problems that would interfere with the study. Some of the young people had subtle hearing deficits, but nothing serious enough to exclude them from the research.

As it turned out, those with minor hearing deficits had fMRI results that took an unexpected turn. Lee and his colleagues were expecting brain activity in the left hemisphere of the brain. But in the subjects with subtle hearing decline, the fMRI was showing activity in the right hemisphere as well – in the right frontal cortex, to be exact.

“This isn’t about the ear – it’s about the brain, the cognitive process, and it shouldn’t be happening until people are at least older than 50,” he said.

As part of the natural aging process, humans begin to use more of their right frontal brain to process language. But in healthy young people, the left side is wholly responsible for language comprehension.

“But in our study, young people with mild hearing decline were already experiencing this phenomenon,” Lee said. “Their brains already know that the perception of sound is not what it used to be and the right side starts compensating for the left.”

It’s unclear what this means for people as they age, but Lee said he is concerned that tapping into the right brain so early in life could mean worse hearing comprehension with age.

And he’s especially worried about the link between hearing loss and dementia.

“Previous research shows that people with mild hearing loss are twice as likely to have dementia. And those with moderate to severe hearing loss have three to five times the risk,” Lee said.

“We can’t be sure, but we suspect that what happens is you put so much effort into listening you drain your cognitive resources, and that has a negative effect on your thinking and memory and that can eventually lead to dementia.”

Lee said young people should take their hearing health seriously and understand that there could be serious repercussions down the road if they don’t. And it’s important to recognize that risks arise from routine exposures, such as listening to music on portable players and attending live music events, he said.

“Letting this process happen early in your life could be like spending your retirement money when you’re in your 30s,” Lee said. “You’re going to need that down the road.”

Source: https://news.osu.edu/news/2018/05/22/research-hearing-loss/

Hearing is Life, Hearing Loss and Overall Health

Eight Good Reasons To Show Your Ears Some Love

We’re in the middle of Better Hearing & Speech Month #BHSM, so there’s no time like the present for eight good reasons to show your ears some love! ♥

Unless you live in complete isolation, you speak to and listen to people all day, every day! Family, friends and coworkers likely make up the majority of our days’ worth of communication but there are dozens of others we speak to from checking out at a store, asking or giving directions, hosts/hostesses at restaurants or even small talk waiting on line or in an elevator.

bhsm communication word cloud.jpg

Communicating with others does more than fill our day with social interaction; it provides our brains with the necessary stimulation to continue to process sounds into words.

If you think you may have hearing loss but have been putting off a test, or if you already know you have hearing loss, but have been putting off getting hearing aids, here is a list of what to expect with untreated hearing loss.

  1. Your vocabulary will suffer.
    If you leave hearing loss untreated, the various sounds and letters will become more difficult to hear and understand as the hearing frequencies are lost. Each letter and verbal sound corresponds to a unique frequency range. When the ability to hear that range is lost, two things happen. Firstly, the sounds, letters and words that are within those frequencies are more difficult to hear and especially hard to understand or identify.
    Our post on Auditory Deprivation can be found here:      https://audiodx.wordpress.com/2018/01/01/auditory-deprivation/

  2. Your voice may change.
    For some people with untreated hearing loss, the way their voice sounds may change for themselves as well as to others, as inflections may change. Another potential for a change in voice is the obvious: volume.  People with hearing loss compensate either by speaking louder, to hear themselves or even sometimes more quietly, because they’re worried that they may be shouting.
  3. You may need subtitles.
    As untreated hearing loss worsens, closed captions in movies and television may become a necessity, especially in cases when the actors have facial hair or are wearing masks, aren’t facing the camera, are speaking softly, if it’s dark, or if there are loud noises interspersed with the dialogue. Quite often, someone with hearing loss will just end up watching the screen without knowing what’s going on, having delayed reactions based on those around them. That doesn’t sound very enjoyable to me . . .
  4. You may have trouble in noisy environments.
    Trying to have a conversation in a loud environment for anyone can be tricky, but for someone with hearing loss, it’s nearly impossible. Loud music, dozens of nearby conversations, dishes and silverware clanking, and loud traffic, or construction, are just a few examples. When loud noises overwhelm the ears, they can’t focus on speech; even if it’s nearby.
  5. Your work performance can suffer.
    When someone suffers from hearing loss, they strain to hear, and that can lead to fatigue if it’s for long periods of time, which leads to an inability to focus and retain information. Hearing loss impacts attitude, increases stress and leads to a loss of energy as well, which becomes overwhelming. All of those things combined can be detrimental to work performance.
  6. Your relationships will suffer.
    Whether it’s asking others to continually repeat themselves, missing or misunderstanding parts of conversation, or being unable to effectively communicate in large groups, loss of hearing puts a definite strain on relationships.  Over time, the person with hearing loss can become isolated and just start avoiding social events.
  7. Your cognitive health may be affected.
    Untreated hearing loss has been linked to dementia, Alzheimers and overall declines in cognitive abilities. A study by researchers at Johns Hopkins in 2013 found that those with a hearing loss experience a 30-to-40-percent greater decline in cognitive abilities when compared to their counterparts without hearing loss. That same study also found adults with hearing loss develop significant impairments to their cognitive abilities 3.2 years earlier than adults with normal hearing. Another study from 2011 found that adults with untreated hearing loss were two, three or five times more likely to develop dementia depending on the severity of their hearing loss.

    You can find the study here:
    https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_accelerates_brain_function_decline_in_older_adults

    See our dementia-related blog post here:
    https://audiodx.wordpress.com/2018/02/07/hearing-loss-and-overall-health-series-focus-on-dementia/

  8. Your safety may be at risk!
    Most alarms and safety-related products have both auditory and visual elements, just not always together.  Fire alarms, carbon monoxide alarms, and other emergency signals might not be heard and can significantly impair your ability to respond and process during an emergency situation!

The above are eight good reasons to get your hearing tested, or – if you already know you have a hearing loss – to discuss treatment options with your Audiologist.

Don’t have an Audiologist and live in the NYC area? Give us a call. We’d be happy to help you navigate the process.

We have locations in Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. (718) 745-2826

Audiological Diagnostics • We’re All Ears™

Hearing is Life

What Are You Missing?

I have to apologize for the lateness of this post. I try my best to post on Wednesdays but considering how busy we were yesterday, and the topic this week, I wanted to be sure I had the quiet and time to do it justice.

To start, I’ll introduce myself. My name is Rose, and I work for Dr. Dassan Ali at Audiological Diagnostics of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.  One of the things that I love to do at my job, is write these weekly blogs/Facebook posts. It gives me the chance to learn along with all of you, while I do my research, and I’m always hopeful that those of you who read them get something positive or helpful (or both!) from them.

The majority of our blog posts are informational in nature, and that’s definitely worthwhile and important to people who are interested in making sure they’re making educated decisions relating to their health, but I often feel as though I fall short in terms of conveying the emotional aspect of hearing loss.

So that’s where this blog post is going today.

I was browsing for images to use this week and came across this one.

Thomas Dalsgaard Clausen’s “Great-Grandmother and Child” and immediately emailed asking for permission to use it, which he graciously gave.  You can find his other sketches on his One Drawing Daily blog – they’re all worth a look!

thomas-dalsgaard-clausen-2015-09-15c-drawing-of-a-great-grandmother-and-child-in-ballpoint-pen

This image reminded me of my mother, who passed away in 2014. Not because she resembles the woman in the image, but because she loved her family, and that emotion is evident in this sketch.

“How does that relate to a blog about hearing health?” you might ask.

Simply put, my mother noticed a deficit in her hearing, went to get an Audiological test, confirmed her suspicions and got hearing aids.  That’s just the simple answer, though.

The deeper answer is that my mother loved nature, and family and socializing and travel.  She loved the different birds’ songs, exploring new places and visiting old familiar ones with my father, and she was the glue that held our family together – as most mothers are.

When I was very small, if I had a nightmare, I would whisper “Mom” into the darkness, and in moments I would hear the creak of the floorboards in my parents’ room. She, like most mothers, had super-human hearing. Not just relegated to the whispers of small, frightened children; she spent her entire life hearing through what we (six kids) were saying to her.

She was our go-to person.

Everyone has someone in their lives that is their go-to person, and everyone is someone else’s go-to person.

When our hearing diminishes, we may not clearly hear the heartfelt advice, or the request for it.  Little details get lost through the cracks of hearing loss, and muddle what others are saying.

Think about the game “telephone,” where a group of people whisper a message to the next person in line. By the time the whispered message travels a short distance between people, the message gets distorted.

In the context of a game, it can have hilarious results. In the context of every-day conversation and communication the humor diminishes significantly.

Think of all the people in your life – from family to friends – who communicate with you on a regular basis. Think of the music you love and the sounds of the world that touch you deeply.  Hearing loss robs you of important pieces of the conversations you have and of the world around you, and once the decline starts, that is the time to act.

Lost hearing is lost forever.

So, if you find yourself asking people to repeat themselves, or come to realize that you’re missing parts of conversations, don’t play a game of telephone that could end tragically. Be like my mom, and act.  Someone close to you will thank you for it. ♥