Let’s talk about ears! First, of all, and I’m just getting this out of the way, but aren’t ears weird? I mean honestly. Take a look at them. They are just…well…funky. If you landed here another planet, one where people didn’t look like us, and you saw, say, a nose, or eyes, or even hands or feet, I think you’d be like, “Oh ok, interesting, I can accept that.” But ears? “Wait. What ARE those?”
Ears Are Amazing
Truth is, ears, the part you see and the parts you don’t, may be odd to look at, but in fact are one of our most amazing organs. Seriously! You probably don’t think about your ears much, and if you don’t, that’s probably a good thing. It means they are working. It’s only when something goes wrong that you start to notice it. (Kind of like when swallowing goes wrong, but that’s another blog post.)
I should know. My ears are wonky as all get out. I lost hearing in my left ear when I was 11. Why? No one knows. Can I function with one ear? Sure. In fact, if you’re reading this and you’ve met me in person, you probably didn’t even notice it, unless I told you. Also, my mom is extremely hard of hearing and has used hearing aids to hear since I was a baby. In fact, my interest in becoming a speech pathologist is partly due to the fact that my family is hearing-challenged.
But I didn’t write this to complain. I am writing so you’ll be aware. So you’ll know how awesome your ears are. And some facts you should know to take care of them.
They Need Protection
First and foremost, please, please, please people, wear ear protection. I can’t tell you the number of times I see landscapers mowing lawns, construction workers around power tools, and people just out and about doing their LOUD things, and not wearing protection. If you shoot, you need protection. If you work in a factory with noise, you need protection. If you mow, or weed eat, or leaf blow, by God, you need protection. And don’t even get me started on rock musicians. (You, of all people, must realize the importance of sound!) Your elderly self will thank you.
Also, ear buds. There is a reason why it tells you the decibel level is set too high when you use your ear buds with your phone. It’s because your cell phone company doesn’t want you to sue them for setting your level too high! Pay attention to it. There’s a reason for it to be there.
One more thing, and this one is important. If you come to me with your little one, and we find there is a speech and language delay, I will almost always ask you about history of ear infections. It is extremely common for a child with recurring ear infections to have delays in speech and language development due to ear infections. You may think the medication cleared things up, and it may have, but the revolving door of recurring infections can set a child up for inconsistent episodes of true hearing loss that impacts their ability to develop speech and language.
Is Someone You Know Hearing Impaired?
Ok, I said one more thing, but this is really one more thing. This is just a courtesy thing, a be-a-decent-person thing. If someone tells you they are hearing impaired, please do not jokingly say, “What?” and act like you didn’t hear them. It is not funny. It will never be funny. You might think it’s funny, but to the person you’re saying it to, it feels at the very least, un-funny, and at its worst, kinda mean. There. Enough said. Just say this: “Oh, ok, well let me know if there is anything I need to do so you can hear me better.” That’s it.
Ok, that lawn won’t get mowed by itself, so I’m off to do it. With ear protection! See ya!