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Hearing Lost and Regained.
Blog: Hear Better With Hearing Loss
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On Thanksgiving Day, I received an email that deeply moved me. It was from a woman named Elena, in Greece, who had found my email address on the internet. So much of what Elena experienced transcends national boundaries. But as her story shows, much doesn’t. I received her email on Thanksgiving. It reminded me to be thankful for how relatively tolerant and accepting Americans are about disability.
The full email is available here:
Hearing Lost and Regained.
"We often think of hearing loss as an inevitable part of the aging process, but these findings provide evidence that potentially modifiable risk factors, such as maintaining a healthy weight and staying physically active, may help in the prevention of hearing loss or delay its progression,"
This is reprinted from HearingPlanet.
Obesity Associated with Higher Risk of Hearing Loss in Women; Physical Activity Associated with Lower Risk
According to the World Health Organization, 360 million people have disabling hearing loss, a condition that is often considered to be an unavoidable side effect of aging. New research from Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) published online in The American Journal of Medicine, finds that a higher body mass index (BMI) and larger waist circumference are each associated with higher risk of hearing loss, while a higher level of physical activity is associated with lower risk of hearing loss in women.
"We often think of hearing loss as an inevitable part of the aging process, but these findings provide evidence that potentially modifiable risk factors, such as maintaining a healthy weight and staying physically active, may help in the prevention of hearing loss or delay its progression," said Sharon Curhan, MD, ScM, lead author of the paper and a researcher in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH.
Using data from 68,421 women in the Nurses' Health Study II who were followed from 1989 to 2009, researchers analyzed information on BMI, waist circumference, physical activity, and self-reported hearing loss. The baseline and updated information was obtained through validated biennial questionnaires. Researchers found that women with a BMI of 30-34 had a relative risk for hearing loss that was 17 percent higher, and with a BMI of 40 or more had a relative risk that was 25 percent higher, when compared with those with a BMI of less than 25.
For women with waist circumference 80-88 cm, the relative risk for hearing loss was 11 percent higher and with waist circumference greater than 88 cm the relative risk was 27 percent higher when compared with women with waist circumference less than 71 cm.
Researchers also found that higher level of physical activity was associated with lower risk. Compared with women who were the least physically active, women who were the most physically active had a 17 percent lower risk of hearing loss. Walking, which was the most common form of physical activity reported among these women, was associated with lower risk; walking 2 hours per week or more was associated with a 15 percent lower risk of hearing loss, compared with walking less than one hour per week.
This research was funded by grants DC010811 and CA50385 from the National Institutes of Health and from Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.
Brigham and Women's Hospital
But I can't hear them! Oh yes you can.
Thanks to advocates on the local and national level, more and more movie theaters are offering closed captioning systems for their deaf and hard of hearing patrons.
To read more about the campaign for captioning, and successes around the country, click on this link: Movie Captions Could Be Coming to Your Neighborhood.
This is a subject I can go back to again and again, as the stories keep coming in.
I'd like to share two in this post, both involving young women.
The first comes from Kathleen Raven, a blogger at Scientific American. In a series of posts recently she discussed sexual harassment she'd experienced from two supervisors. In a post titled "Mixed Up" she lists the kinds of harassment she's endured. One of them in particular caught my eye:
"You cannot take advantage of the fact that I am, by default, a nice person. I have a hearing loss since birth that requires me to concentrate hard (lip-read) on what you are saying. It may come across that I am acting like you are the only person in the room, but really, even with my hearing aids, I am simply trying to hear you."
A young woman who attended a talk I gave recently spoke up during the q and a to share a kind of discrimination she had experienced. She was open about her hearing loss at work, and managed quite well. She wasn't especially self-conscious about her hearing loss. But what hadn't occurred to her was how aware of her hearing loss her colleagues were.
This came to her in a particularly humiliating way.
Towards the end of a long meeting the woman sitting across the table from her suddenly assumed an intent position, staring fixedly at the speaker. As others noticed, they began to giggle in an embarrassed way. The woman realized that she was being mimicked. She flushed and immediately got up and left the room.
Later the guilty party apologized, saying she was just trying to lighten up a deadly meeting. Apparently it didn't occur to her that the person being mocked wouldn't find it amusing.
For people with hearing loss, travel poses quite a few challenges. If my experience is any indication, you can never anticipate them all, in spite of taking along a suitcase full of devices and chargers. A sense of humor helps.
Travel heavy: Take spare hearing aids, batteries, and chargers. Take your FM system and its chargers. Take your laptop so you can communicate by email if you need to talk to someone at home. Take converters for every country you will visit. Take a power strip to plug all those devices into the one outlet that may be in your room. Take your cell phone even though you won’t have cell phone service.
Take your laptop so you can email home if necessary. Take your cell phone so you can look up addresses in your Contacts.
Don't forget the power strip! The picture with this post was taken on another foreign trip. I practically needed a separate bag just for the chargers.
To read more about my travel adventures and mishaps, and maybe pick up a tip or two, read Planes, Trains and Automobiles on What I Hear.
How many in this audience can hear the speaker? How many hear only part of what he or she is saying? Or maybe nothing at all, given the demographic pictured. There's a simple miraculous technology called looping that would make the speaker's voice available to all. Read More