Hearing the message on hearing

One of the interesting things about blogging is that you can never tell which posts are going to attract interest, or when.  Today I appeared on ABC Radio National’s Australia Talks, giving my views on the issue of hearing loss.

This is the second time I’ve done an extended media interview on this topic in the last year or so. Both times I was approached solely as a result of this blog post I did on the topic in early 2006. No doubt people have found that blog post as a result of the magic of Google.

Hearing loss is a largely invisible health issue which usually attracts little attention, but it is quite a widespread problem which is likely to get even more common unless more efforts is put into raising awareness of easy it can be to damage your hearing.  (And even though I spent 20 minutes on the radio today talking about the need to be more aware of the damage that can be done to our hearing through exposure to loud signs, I’m typing this wearing headphones – as I was when I did up my post three years ago – almost certainly with the music too loud!) 

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  1. I also heard that broadcast– I felt that some other pertinent facts regarding how the future consequences of hearing loss could impact on the young weren’t covered.
    Things like deafness precluding one from certain employment opportunities or halting a career at the prime of life.
    Also any unexpected future assaults to the hearing organ like explosive noise or head injury usually exacerbate the degree of deafness and or tinnitus.
    Various prescribed and common medications are known to worsen things especially tinnitus, making treatments difficult.
    Also there is a worse form of tinnitus which is not just perceived in the ears; it fills your whole head and is very debilitating- called ‘central head noise’- It is not unknown for some head-injury victims to feel suicidal because of intolerable tinnitus-
    Movies and gatherings become less enjoyable and many people (especially the young) mistake one’s deafness for ‘thickness’.
    Lots of missed telephone calls, missed appliance alarms etc on the domestic scene.
    Just a few of the possible future joys to consider when abusing one’s aural system unnecessarily. Of course some people can also have the same hearing problems who’ve never indulged in loud music.I hope to hear these wider concerns involving deafness being discussed in the future, rather than discovering them the hard way, when it’s too late–

  2. Well how about this one?

    The last couple of times when I’ve been to the cinema, my concentration has been constantly interrupted by the noise coming from the cinema next door.

    As it is, I have to sit as far from the screen as possible, so as to avoid being completely overwhelmed by the sheer size of the picture.

    At the dance studio, if the boss doesn’t play the music fairly loud, some people cannot pick up the beat! One man said he can’t hear hardly ANYTHING, when he’s only 10 metres away.

    So now all of the people who have knowingly/unknowingly deafened themselves are attempting to deafen the rest of us with their complaints!

    I don’t know why this is, but I can still hear an aboriginal man tapping a little stick on the side of his didgeridoo as if he is sitting right next to me, even though he is 200 metres away!

  3. Hey Andrew. You were listening to The Church when writing the last blog post about hearing loss. What were you listening to this time?

  4. I believe that there could be a strong correlation between inattendance at school by some aboriginal kids and hearing loss. The stats re ear problems and young indigenous kids are rather alarming, and although there was some initial testing of kids in the NT, there’s been little if any follow up care. The incidence of ear infections etc is related to poor housing conditions, lack of fresh running water, sewerage and adequate garbage disposal – in short, conditions such as this, like with Rheumatic Fever were eliminated in the rest of the community after WW2 – improved housing, sewerage etc. Such situations would not be tolerated in the broader community, but obviously adequate for aboriginal people – shameful!

    I’ve always been quite amused how people will shout at people who have english as a second language – as though they have a ‘problem’ with their hearing. It must drive them nuts! I think there’s going to be lots of people with serious hearing problems in about 20 yrs or so – those Ipods etc are so loud – can be heard 3 seats away on a train or bus – drives me nuts! Maybe I’m just a grumpy old woman? I don’t mind my favourite music a bit loud, BUT the people 5 houses away can’t hear it!

  5. Naomi:

    Yes, you make an excellent point about Ipods. A lot of very young people are fairly deaf. Parents need to take greater responsibility for what they allow their kids to do, that might leave them with problems later. That includes a lot of other things besides noise exposure.

    Brisbane trains now have a list containing advice as to what is acceptable behaviour. One item says something to the effect that you will have less conflict with other passengers if your Ipod is kept at a low level. So I guess they must be driving a lot of other people nuts, not just you.

    I don’t really think deafness is a huge cause of aboriginal children’s poor attendance at school. Schools are sometimes very difficult to get to (poor roads, no buses, overcrowded schools), and some parents do not place much importance on sending their children to school each day.

    In terms of their hearing loss, I think the biggest problem could be lack of access to medical care, including antibiotics.

    Lots of little kids get recurrent ear infections, no matter where they live. The eustachian tubes in a child are horizontal i.e. parallel to the ground, and therefore don’t drain well. So when a child gets a cold, fluid sits in the eustachian tubes and gets infected, and the infection may travel to the ears.

    Children who suffer from recurrent ear infections are often helped by drugs such as Dimetapp, which dry up the fluid. You have to give it to them whenever their noses are runny, in order to avoid an ear infection.

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