About 37 million people, in America, are affected by a hearing loss of some kind (Hearing loss, 2011). Only about 15 percent of those affected actually get treated for their hearing loss, no matter how mild or severe (Brody, 2012). This means people are either in denial about the hearing loss or are not aware that they have one. In order to properly analyze the experience of having a hearing loss, I wore earplugs for 8 hours in activities I would do on a normal basis.
Some of these activities include attending class, doing homework, shopping, eating at a restaurant, watching TV, and hanging out with my roommates. Wearing the earplugs simulated me having conductive hearing loss, a type of hearing loss in which sounds is not well conducted from the ear canal to the eardrum and middle ear bones (Conductive hearing loss, 2011). The degree of hearing loss simulated is mild, which means that speech understanding is reduced, especially in noisy environments (Hearing loss, 2011). This experience gave me a little insight on how people’s lives can become more complicated by having a hearing loss.
In my first activity with the earplugs in, I attended one of my regularly schedule classes. This class is in a decent sized lecture hall, where the professor was standing at least 50 feet away from where I was sitting. Normally in this class I would listen to the professor speak as I wrote down notes in my notebook. Because the earplugs hindered my listening ability, I was forced to stare at the professor throughout the class to even remotely hear what he was saying. I began trying to read his lips to help understand more of what he was saying, but when I did this I was not retaining the information he was saying out loud.
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I became very frustrated very quickly and realized I had not really learned much in this lecture. Next, I attempted to complete some homework back at my apartment. It was a little easier to concentrate on my work because the sounds of my roommates talking or music being played where not there to distract me, like they normally do. While doing my homework, one issue did arise; because I was so concentrated on reading, things I could have heard even with the simulated hearing loss were non-existent.
My roommate came to ask me a question and ended up startling me because I did not hear her walk up before she touched my shoulder. She told me she had already started talking to me and that I was not responding at all. While shopping for groceries and at the mall, I had a whole other set of problems. At the grocery store, I could not tell when other shoppers where waiting behind me to pick an item I was standing by. This became frustrating for not only me but also the other shoppers.
Later, I asked a worker where a specific item was located and could tell by the look on their face that I was speaking too loud. When he answered my question I had to ask them to repeat the last part of their sentence again because another customer was talking on their cell phone right next to us and the workers words became very distorted. The grocery store, as a whole, was a very noisy place so I heard a lot sounds but a lot of times all the sounds became jumbled. The mall was a very similar situation, except that I know my way around very well so I did not have to ask for help.
However, I normally would have asked the workers at certain stores if they had any deals or if specific items came in a different size, but I refrained because I was already aggravated from the other activities of the day. When the greeters at the store entrances said something, I usually just smiled and kept walking unless I could clearly hear what they said. I am sure it was an awkward encounter for them if I did not say anything back but I did not want to hear them wrong and say something wrong and embarrass myself. Needless to say, I left the mall empty handed.
Two activities that proved to be less irritating than I originally thought they would be was watching TV and hanging out with my friends. I turned the TV volume up, which helped me hear it somewhat better. Also, I was mostly watching a football game so I could see how that could be less challenging than a sitcom because even if I could not hear every word the announcers were saying I still knew what was going on if the game. The last major event I wore the earplugs too was going out to eat with my family. This proved difficult since there was music playing and a lot of other groups talking throughout the restaurant.
When ordering I had to really concentrate on what the waiter was saying so I did not have to ask him to repeat himself. I did a pretty good job but I was a little slower reacting to some of his questions than normal, as it took longer to process what he was saying. Once the 8 hours of wearing the earplugs was up I was very relieved to take them out. Conductive hearing loss can be caused by numerous things, mostly commonly an ear infection, impacted earwax, a damaged ear drum, and poor Eustachian tube performance (Conductive hearing loss, 2011).
As mentioned before, almost 85 percent of people with a hearing loss choose not to get treated by a doctor. Hearing loss awareness is not as high as it should be in America. Most people believe losing hearing is just a part of getting older, but some other reasons could be affecting their hearing and could eventually be reversible. In certain cases, the cause of a hearing loss could be a tumor, which if not treated could be deadly (Hearing loss, 2011).
With the use of iPods and other listening devices increasing in kids and teens, their risk of obtaining a hearing loss is also increasing. They are most likely not aware how listening to their music too loud can affect their hearing. More awareness needs to be brought to this subject as well as other similar situations. Even if a persons hearing loss is something that can be fixed with a hearing aid, it is important to get one because activities such as driving, walking across a street, and working in certain environments could be dangerous, if you cannot hear properly (Brody, 2012).
Through this experience, I have had a small taste of how a hearing loss can truly affect my everyday activities. It was a very lonely and sometimes depressing situation because simple communication was a labored tasked. I am normally very big on multi-tasking, but in certain cases the simulated hearing loss hindered my ability to do other things as I tried to listen to someone speak. The best word I can find to sum up how the whole experience affected me is I felt disconnected.
The worst part about this disability is it is a hidden one. Other than some people wearing hearing aids, a person with a hearing loss is not always identifiable and therefore much harder to distinguish if they need assistance with something just by looking. From this experience, I have decided if I ever develop a hearing loss, I will visit a audiologist right away to figure out the problem for my safety and the safety of everyone around me.
- Conductive hearing loss. American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. (2011). Retrieved from http://www. asha. org/public/hearing/conductive-hearing-loss/
- Hearing loss. (n. d. ). House Research Institute. (2011) Retrieved from http://www. hei. org/education/health/loss. htm
- Brody, J. E. (2012, January 26). Personal Health: Lifelines for People With Hearing Loss.
- Health and Wellness - Well Blog - NYTimes. com. Retrieved from http://well. blogs. nytimes. com/2012/01/16/personal-health-lifelines-for-people-with-hearing-loss/
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Analysis of a Hearing Loss. (2017, Mar 01). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/analysis-of-a-hearing-loss/
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