We love hearing health! So, since February is traditionally known as the month for expressing sentiments of love and admiration, we thought you might like some suggestions on how to give gifts and be an advocate for hearing health at the same time.
Here’s the bonus: these random acts of hearing kindness can actually be good for you. According to a study led by researchers at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, being kind isn’t only nice, it also makes us happier and healthier. What more could you ask for?
Random acts of hearing kindness
Ask restaurants to turn down music
If the music in your favorite restaurant is making it too difficult to hear the conversation at the table, it may be time to talk to management. Because soft furnishings like carpets and tablecloths have been replaced by more modern designs and open-concept kitchens, the acoustics in our favorite eateries are changing, too. Noise has a tendency to bounce off of hard surfaces. And when the music is loud, patrons tend to increase the volume of their conversations, making for a noisy, distracting environment for all involved.
Here’s the bottom line: If the volume is causing you to strain to hear, it’s probably causing everyone else to strain, too. Begin by asking your server (politely) if it’s possible to turn down the music. He may tell you “no," but on the off chance the staff honor your request, you’ve just improved the dining experience (and hearing health) for all involved. If not, you know where NOT to eat the next time you want to dine out.
Carry foam earplugs with you to noisy events
One of the most common forms of hearing loss is caused by exposure to noise that is too loud for our ears. The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) says noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) affects people of all ages. This type of hearing loss is permanent and can be caused from a one-time sound such as an explosion, or from long-term exposure to sounds that are too loud.
Fortunately, NIHL is also the most preventable type of hearing loss. You can help preserve your hearing, along with those around you, by wearing — and sharing — foam earplugs whenever you know your hearing will be exposed to loud noises. Going to the championship ballgame at the indoor arena? Planning to attend the concert when your favorite rock group comes to town? Purchase a container of inexpensive foam earplugs (available at most drugstores for less than $10) and share them with people in your section. Even if they choose not to wear them, you’ve given them some food for thought. Maybe they’ll be more protective of their hearing in the future all because you were thoughtful enough to offer up the suggestion.
Look at people when you talk to them
One of the easiest, most effective ways you can improve communication between yourself and other people is by looking at them directly when you speak. And, if the person you happen to be speaking to is hard of hearing, they’ll appreciate being able to see your face clearly enough to read your lips.
Making eye contact shows respect, interest, appreciation, and enhances understanding. Even if you’ll never see them again — store clerks, bank tellers, the postman — make eye contact and speak clearly. Not only will it improve communication, it will also leave a positive, lasting impression.
Turn off the radio when you’re in the car with other people
The radio is great company when you’re alone, but it can be intrusive when you’re trying to converse with someone in the back seat. If you’re met with some protest, at least turn down the volume so you can carry on a conversation without having to yell.