Posts Tagged ‘noise pollution’


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Loss of hearing has been on my mind lately. I’m getting near the age my mother started to lose her hearing. She made it work for her, though, pretending she didn’t hear you when she didn’t want to answer your question.

I, on the other hand, will look into hearing aids. Jane Brody at the New York Times reported recently that getting a hearing aid before your hearing is really bad is associated with slowing the onset of dementia. I like the sound of that.

Meanwhile, at National Public Radio (NPR), we learn that everyone’s hearing is being adversely affected by our noisy world.

Dave Davies at WHYY’s Fresh Air interviews the author of a new book on the topic.

“Our ears are complicated, delicate instruments that largely evolved in far quieter times than the age we currently inhabit — an early world without rock concerts, loud restaurants, power tools and earbuds.

“Writer David Owen describes our current age as a ‘deafening’ one, and in his new book, Volume Control, he explains how the loud noises we live with are harming our ears.

“Owen warns that even small household appliances like food processors and hair dryers can generate noise at levels that lead to permanent damage. He notes that people who live in places without significant background noises tend to experience less hearing loss.

‘There have been a couple of studies done with populations of indigenous people who live in places where there is very little background noise and elderly people in those populations tend to hear as well as infants do,’ he says.

“Owen recommends that people carry earplugs with them — and not be bashful about using them. Recently he popped in a pair of musician’s earplugs before watching Dunkirk, a movie long on explosions and short on dialogue. …

” ‘People who have trouble hearing tend to have more unrelated health issues of all kinds. It, sort of, overworks our brains. If you can’t quite hear what people are saying, you have to work harder to figure it out, and the brainpower that you use to do that is brainpower that you can’t use for anything else. People who have trouble hearing also tend to withdraw. … If you have trouble seeing things, you get glasses. But people tend to put off getting hearing aids for a long time. …

” ‘The largest single purchaser of hearing aids in the United States is the [Department of Veterans Affairs]. The No. 1 and No. 2 service-related health claims made by military veterans are hearing loss and tinnitus. Exposure to gunfire, especially exposure to blast explosions, but then also just the extraordinarily high sound levels of military service, even on a base outside of combat. One of the loudest work environments in the world is an aircraft carrier. And simply sleeping on an aircraft carrier, you can expose yourself to sound at levels that are sufficient to do permanent damage to your hearing. …

” ‘I learned from reading about tinnitus that there’s basically nothing you can do. You can’t make it go away. There is no known cure for it. The therapy for tinnitus is to learn to accommodate it. …

” ‘Sometimes hearing aids can help you. If you have some hearing loss and you eliminate that, you bring up the sound of everything else. Then this phantom noise becomes less bothersome. You can’t hear it as much. A therapist described it to me as, “You’re in a room with a candle. The candle is the tinnitus. But if you turn on the lights, then the candle is less noticeable.” And that’s what sometimes happens with hearing aids with somebody who has tinnitus. …

“Classical musicians — just like rock musicians — experience hearing loss. ‘The impact on your hearing probably has less to do with the instrument that you play than with the instrument that the person who sits behind you plays. So if you have a loud instrument right behind you, you’re the one who gets the impact. … It’s not only in those performances. Musicians practice, especially nowadays, for hours and hours and in small rooms with loud instruments and it takes a toll on their hearing very definitely. …

” ‘The revolution that’s coming is that it’s going to be increasingly possible to buy over-the-counter, less expensive hearing improvement products — hearing aids and other products. … I have a friend who lost a lot of hearing, wears hearing aids. He wore [Bose] Hearphones to a restaurant and found them much superior to his hearing aids — the quality of the sound, the ability to focus on people that he wanted to listen to.”

More at NPR, here.

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