What did you say? The New York Times Explores Hearing Loss.

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Most of us, when we reach middle age, have a fair amount of hearing loss. Even for myself, being able to hear what people say in a crowded space is more difficult than it was when I was younger. Was it all that loud rock music, either in the car, at a concert or playing in a band? On the other hand, many children today also have some loss from having their headphones turned up too high, a phenomenon that began a while ago when music became portable with the Sony Walkman. As a rule, since I love live music, I began to wear hearing protection, in the form of ear filters that allow the music in and keep the noise and distortion out. Most music stores sell the Hearo's or Sonic II brands that work well to keep the music in and keep the noise and harmful frequencies out for under $20 and then last for years. You know you are having a loud music hangover if your ears are still ringing when you leave the theater or club. It may not be super cool to have them in but it beats having to need hearing aids when you get older. By the way, when I visited the New Orleans Jazz Festival, I never needed protection because the music never got that loud. I assume they have a maximum volume ordinance since even in the clubs, protection was never needed. Contrast this with my experience going with my son to see My Chemical Romance a couple of years ago (who unfortunately just broke up), it was so loud that even with protection, you could hear the sound system distorting which seems pointless since everyone came to hear the music, not the volume. Check out the NY Times article here.
Noise, not age is the leading cause of hearing loss. Unless you take steps now to protect to your ears, sooner or later many of you — and your children — will have difficulty understanding even ordinary speech.Tens of millions of Americans, including 12 percent to 15 percent of school-age children, already have permanent hearing loss caused by the everyday noise that we take for granted as a fact of life. "The sad truth is that many of us are responsible for our own hearing loss," writes Katherine Bouton in her new book, "Shouting Won't Help: Why I — and 50 Million Other Americans — Can't Hear You." The cause, she explains, is "the noise we blithely subject ourselves to day after day." While there are myriad regulations to protect people who work in noisy environments, there are relatively few governing repeated exposure to noise outside the workplace: portable music devices, rock concerts, hairdryers, sirens, lawnmowers, leaf blowers, vacuum cleaners, car alarms, and countless other sources. We live in a noisy world, and every year it seems to get noisier. Ms. Bouton notes that the noise level inside Allen Fieldhouse at the University of Kansas often exceeds that of a chain saw. After poor service, noise is the second leading complaint about restaurants. Proprietors believe that people spend more on food and drink in bustling eateries, and many have created new venues or retrofitted old ones to maximize sound levels. When I'm told about a new restaurant, my first question is, "Is it noisy?" My friends and I will never return to one in which the racket makes it impossible to converse with tablemates. Perhaps the young diners the restaurateurs covet "talk" by texting. The ears are fragile instruments. When sound waves enter the ear, they cause the eardrum to vibrate. The vibrations are transmitted to the cochlea, in the inner ear, where fluid carries them to neatly organized rows of hair cells. These in turn stimulate auditory nerve fibers, each attuned to a different frequency. These impulses travel via the auditory nerve to the brain, where they are interpreted as, say, words, music or an approaching vehicle. read more