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Protect yourself from hearing loss 

DO YOU HAVE ANYTHING in your life that you regret? I bet if you stop and think about it, there are some things that you regret over the course of your life. It could be that you didn’t visit a family member enough. It could be that you didn’t try harder in that math class, or that maybe you didn’t start saving enough money early. It might be something that you wish you had said. 

I have my share of regrets, but one of them is not protecting my hearing enough. One of my early jobs was to cut grass at my house and eventually I would cut grass for neighbors and local businesses. I never wore hearing protection. Hours of listening to the constant hum of a lawn mower and weed trimmer have had a lasting impact. 

When I was in high school, I became addicted to loud music. I attended many concerts, but I will never forget the time I attended one concert that had a lasting impact on my hearing. The band I went to see was known for loud music and for using cannons as props. The cannons came up from the stage and extended into the audience. At the appropriate time in the song, the cannons would fire with a loud bang. I was right under one of them. My ears rang for many days and I live with permanent hearing loss. 

I should have known better. I was quite sick as a child and had many rounds of treatment and procedures with the local ear, nose and throat doctor. I am now much better at reading lips, although friends and family still become frustrated with my constant inquiries about what was just said. 

It is easy to say to your younger self that you should have known better, and it is easy for young people to dismiss experiences of older people as something that won’t happen to them. Our hearing should be valued. 

I was looking up some tips to prevent hearing loss on the John Hopkins Medicine website and I want to share them with you: 

Get a hearing test to establish a baseline. 

Wear protective hearing gear when exposed to noisy conditions. 

Monitor the volume of your devices. 

Life is precious. Our hearing is precious. In the magazine this month on pages 31–32, we discuss resources for those with hearing loss. Please take your hearing seriously and have empathy for anyone who struggles with hearing loss. 

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