How to Handle Hearing Loss

Commissioned by Mimi-Hearing-Technologies, 2018, read original article here.

There’s no way around it, hearing loss is scary. One day you’re complaining that everyone has conspired against you to mumble for some unknown reason, and the next you’re coming to terms, badly, with the truth: you’re losing your hearing. Thankfully, losing one’s hearing fully is very rare, but with “one in three people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 74” experiencing hearing loss, and a further half of those older than 75 noting “difficulty hearing” – hearing loss is far from an unfounded phobia.

Age-Related Hearing Loss or “presbycusis” is the degradation of minuscule hair’s ability to pick up certain pitches in the inner ear. Presbycusis is prominent, irreversible, and immensely difficult to say – but, as we’ll see, hope is certainly not part of the loss.

One of the main problems with the issue of hearing loss, is that humans are strangely well equipped with a tool to utterly ignore the problem: namely, the ego. Presbycusis occurs gradually, and usually both ear drums are affected simultaneously – as such, the feeling of hearing loss is akin to someone secretly, and minutely turning down the sound of your television over a period of decades. Rather than say “hey, this TV isn’t working right”, the ego dictates you become frustrated and shout at love ones about how “shows are nothing like the used to be – what happened to all the speaking?!”.

How An “I” Hurts An Ear

This bizarre analogy is sadly a reality for many dealing with hearing loss in the modern world. Vanity lures our sensibilities into downright silly decisions more often than anyone cares to admit. For every Chopin, there are countless more MC Hammers and Vanilla Ices that line our CD collections – after all we did look positively fetching in those parachute pants – but, thankfully, history sides with greatness, good ideas, and genius over fads or trends. There are many fantastic hearing tests you can take on line (like this one – link) which can let you know exactly how your hearing is holding up.

Hearing loss is natural, but not dealing with it when we have nifty technological advances which can help, is as bizarre as wearing parachute pants and, well, doing anything, frankly. Early stages of hearing loss are far from severe. A hearing aid will most likely be unnecessary, and even discouraged by your GP in the very early stages. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the most out of your listening life. The difference between total clarity, both in hearing music and the world around you, may be as simple as placing a headphone in your ear – something very on-trend at the moment. Mimi Hearing Technologies pride themselves on keeping up to date with the latest advances in the science of sound, hearing loss, and all things ear. You can take a test to check your hearing, and use their application to adjust the sounds of the external world or your favourite music to your individual hearing profile. So banish your hearing loss fears once and for all – in this regard history, trend and ego are on your side. What are the odds?!

10 Myth-Busting Facts About Hearing

Commissioned by Mimi-Hearing Technologies, 2018, link to original article here.

Being absolutely certain of anything can feel like a chore in the post-truth era. Seems you need to keep one eye open and one ear to the ground at all times to even stand a chance – which can lead to looking very silly in a shared office space. Although you might not always be able to trust what you hear, we at Mimi Hearing Technologies can at least help you separate fact from fiction when it comes to hearing itself. Here are 10 myth-busting facts about hearing that ring true, even if you’ve got ringing in your ears.

1. “Speak into my good ear”

Here’s some bad news for the hard of hearing among us who believe they’ve still got one trusty good ear. For the vast majority, hearing loss comes gradually and affects both ears equally. has found that 90% of people who claim to be hard of hearing in one ear, actually need a hearing aid for both.   

2. “I’m too young to be losing my hearing”

This myth is strangely persistent, even though spectacles are seen donning the faces of toddlers, teenagers and old timers alike. As much as 1 million children of school age require a hearing aid of some sort in the United States alone.

3. “I don’t have a problem, everyone’s just mumbling their words!”

Unfortunately when it comes to hearing loss, the person experiencing the problem is all too often the last in their family to realize. The reason for this is the gradual nature in which presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss, comes about. Imagine someone sneakily turning down the volume on your TV one bar at a time over the course of a decade, and you’ll start to get the picture.

4. “It’s natural at my age to be hard of hearing”

Although 25% of 65-74 year olds and 50% of over 75[1] year olds suffer hearing loss, calling this phenomenon “natural” is a bit of a stretch. After all, years of misspent youth dancing close to speakers, running to catch screeching trains, and living in a bustling city plays havoc on aging ear drums. Yes, modern technology causes damage to hearing – so why turn down “unnatural” help?

5. “Getting help is more trouble than it’s worth”

Mimi Hearing Technologies have developed a Make It Yours (MIY) app which test your hearing, and suggests a subjective solution to suit your ears’ needs. It takes a matter of minutes, and it’s absolutely free!

6. “A hearing aid is the only non-surgical option for hearing loss”

With Mimi-Tech’s award winning, innovative MIY app you can simply wear your own headphones and experience crystal clear sound personalized to suit your individual hearing needs.

7. “I’m only suffering from a small bit of hearing loss, there’s nothing on the market for me”

As hearing loss generally comes gradually with age, there is a large amount of over 50 somethings suffering, aptly enough, in silence. Why strain to hear, when you can heighten your enjoyment of sound with ease.

8. “Hearing aids only help make things louder”

Modern hearing tech has developed vastly in the past decade alone. The MIY app actually recognizes what parts of your hearing could be improved and adjusts sound accordingly.

9. “I’ll never hear like I used to.”

Never say never. Mimi-Hearing-Technologies pride themselves on keeping in the know when it comes to the latest research and development in all things sound. What’s more, all this recent research is utilized by providing the most up to date and strategic hearing technology on the market.

10. “I’ll never hear like I want to.”

Okay, I’ll let that second “never” slip, but only once! The MIY app is not simply a tool to help you hear the music and sounds of the world as clearly as possible – it can be uniquely adjusted to your own preferences and taste. You can now experience rich and crisp sound the way you want it. The days of mediocre sound have passed, and personalized, unique sound is now a reality. Finally, a tasty truth we can all sink our teeth into!

The Reality of Being a Child with Hearing Impaired Parents

Commissioned by Mimi Hearing Technologies, 2018. 

“Dealing with my parent’s deafness wasn’t the problem. The problem was dealing with the world’s perception of their deafness” said Annjoy Marcus to a New York Times reporter, at the first conference for the hearing impaired to take place in United States back in 1986. Annjoy grew up a “CODA”, or Child of Deaf Adult which the hearing-impaired community calls “hearing children” such as Annjoy. The silent culture of the deaf community should in no way be conceived of as bland, dull or lacking. If anything, the opposite is true. Hearing impaired families often compare their lives to recent immigrants in a new world, where their community has its own language, and an inherent sense of belonging. There are community events dotted throughout the calendar where groups of hearing impaired peoples meet, sign, cook and simply enjoy each other’s company. The “hearing world” is blatant before them, but can be completely disregarded with a gesture as simple as closing their eyes or turning away.

The CODA and the Hearing World

For a CODA, however, their relationship with the hearing world can be described as more diplomatic by necessity. Children of hearing impaired parents who can both sign and hear become the de facto mediator and translator between their parents and the hearing world. Doorbells, phone calls and strangers trying to grab their parent’s attention all get directed toward the child resigned to the fact that they will have to deal with matter at hand, no matter how trivial or trying. “We children of deaf parents share many stories of assuming early responsibility” said Mr Jacobs, another attendee of the first CODA conference. He went on to describe how as a five-year-old he would translate the radio’s news into sign language for his deaf parents, struggling to keep up with the speed and complexity of the speech.

The Real Struggle of the Mundane

Thankfully subtitles and television have levitated the CODA’s of today from much of this stress so ill-suited to their early years. However, a struggle remains and is illustrated with a glib but loving touch by blogger, Matt Dixon. “I felt physical pain” says Dixon, referring to how he would have to stomp and bang on the wooden floors of his house to ensure he could get his parent’s attention. On the other hand, any time a parent called Dixon would have to dutifully come to see what it was his parents needed him for. This sounds harmless enough at first however, when many daily requests for his presence could range anywhere from “are you hungry” to “oh, I was just wondering if you were home” the 20th time coming down stairs to converse with family members, simply hollering back downstairs seems like the lap of luxury to a weary CODA teenager.

The Perks and the Charm

This is not to say that being a CODA doesn’t come with its benefits. An infant who desires nothing more than their parents company and touch is never at risk of feeling alone with a deaf parent. As such a parent has no way of simply listening out for the wanting cries of their new born, the parent sleeps while keeping a hand on the baby – waiting to hear the rumblings of hunger or the cries of discomfort. Furthermore, dealing with the hearing world’s perception (or more aptly miss-perception of deafness) theoretically has its perks too. Matt Dixon discusses how he was certain he’d be able to get out of letting his father know his teacher was trying to communicate that Matt’s grades had slipped at a PT meeting. As Dixon was the only translator present, he gleefully and intentionally misinterpreted the teacher’s message, stating instead, “Matthew is doing well”. The father smiled a knowing grin – reminding his cunning little child that he could read lips. Sometimes a CODA can’t catch a break, thankfully the hearing-impaired community’s collective wit, culture and support more than makes up for the irksome moments.

Famous Musicians Who Lost Their Hearing

Commissioned by Mimi Hearing Technologies, June, 2018. View article on website here.  

For musicians, you’d think hearing loss would spell financial ruin, coupled with a fate worse than debt: loving the subtleties of sound with all your might, but knowing your experience of music no longer measures up. But thankfully, there are many musical maestros who’ve suffered the onset of hearing loss and staved-off the silence long enough to dazzle audiences with some of their finest works.

Beethoven Tastes the Music

Well, it would be a pretty shabby blog post on hearing impaired musicians without the master himself, wouldn’t it? Famously composing his masterpiece and final work, the 9th symphony, completely deaf, Beethoven is nothing short of a musical marvel. But how did he manage to compose? Caretakers of his household noted as his hearing deteriorated, Beethoven would bite down on a pencil and position the other end onto the soundboard of the piano. This allowed the sound to travel down the makeshift sound conductor, allowing Beethoven to pick up higher frequencies of notes. In this period Beethoven composed the much-loved piece, Moonlight Sonata, clearly demonstrating he retained an exceptional taste for music.

Sting’s Ring

Police front-man and avid Grammy collector – so far 16 and counting – Sting describes himself as “fairly deaf”, and the word “what” his “favorite word”. Though making light of his battle with tinnitus, the multi-instrumentalist fights a good battle as ambassador for the Hear the World Foundation, campaigning for safer hearing practices and awareness.

Neil Young and the Hearing-Damage Done

Neil Young blasted onto the music scene as a hard-rocking, guitar-shredding member of Buffalo Springfield. But it wasn’t until the recording of his more mellow solo record, Harvest, that Young became a household name. Not an artist to his retrace his steps, Young reeled against melodic numbers for the best part of two decades. Oddly enough, there’s a case to suggest hearing loss played a big part in making his spiritual successor to Harvest with 1992’s Harvest Moon. Experiencing severe tinnitus, Young wished to make music that was easier on the ears, quieter and softer than his usual tastes, saying simply he “didn’t want to hear any loud sound”. The result was one of his highest selling albums to date, with critical acclaim to boot. Goes to show, a little peace and quiet can go a long way.

The Majority in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

On the topic of hard-rockers, according to H.E.A.R (Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers), a non-profit organization campaigning for better hearing health practices, over 60% of inductees into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame experience hearing loss. It’s no wonder when previous recipients such as bluesman, Eric Clapton, said that during rehearsals with his first band, Cream, he “probably had two 100-watt stacks at the height of things” and would “turn one on for guitar solos” cranking each giant speaker “to eleven”! Yes, it’s exactly as dumb as it sounds, but he’s since seen the error of his ways, giving the advice “take care and wear ear plugs”.

Take the Mimi Hearing Test

Musician or not, hearing loss is a real concern with one in five people aged between 65 and 74 experiencing presbycusis, or age-related hearing loss. If you too have spent too many nights rocking out next to the speaker, or find your friends and family have taken to the recent trend of constant mumbling, perhaps it’s time for a check-up. Find out how your hearing’s holding up in six minutes by taking the Mimi Hearing Test. Who knows, you may still have a musical masterpiece left in you.

Selective Hearing: Humanity’s Secret Weapon

Commissioned by Mimi Hearing Technologies, March, 2018. View article on website here.

Sitting in a cramped cafe, you notice your significant other has gone eerily quiet. “Everything alright?” you ask with bated breath. “Shhhh!” they reply, “I’m eavesdropping on a juicy conversation, just keep talking so they don’t catch on.”

If this scene seems familiar it’s because in some shape or form we’ve all lived it. Selective hearing is an often unspoken, but a borderline superhero-like trait of humanity. We possess a devilishly good ability to dull our senses to what’s happening right in front of us, in favor of listening to what tantalizing talk grabs our attention in the background.

This ability was coined as “the cocktail party effect” by the British scientist, Colin Cherry, in the 1950’s. Cherry noticed that people can recognize their name being uttered when they are currently speaking with another subject, even at a crowded, noisy party – or in the case of Cheery at the fruit section of his local supermarket, no doubt. The phenomenon is particularly interesting for research in hearing loss, and hearing aid technology as the ability to focus in on certain sounds above others all but dissipates as hearing becomes impaired.

Evolutionarily Speaking, Evolutionarily Hearing

The brain prioritizes sounds which are deemed to be more significant to you subjectively. For example, evolutionarily speaking, if during a polite conversation with a new mother in law, your ancestor overheard their name being mentioned by a love rival, followed by “well, he’s not my idea of ideal, but I suppose there’s always the axe if we need it” – it is no wonder why a brain that prioritizes certain sounds above others would be advantageous. As the attention of the brain drains energy, the subject who uses his brain’s resources cleverly and sparingly has better chances of retaining energy and being more attentive to threats or opportunities as they arise over a longer time.

Hearing, Speaking… Ignoring

Though there is a commonly held belief that women are more capable of multi-tasking than men, research in this topic suggests that they are just as terrible as each other. Once the attention of a person has been stolen, whether it be by juicy conversation in the background, a possible threat, or even your Facebook newsfeed, the speaker directly in front of you is all but completely drowned out. Only once they utter your name, or trigger your attention by a swift but eloquent drop kicking of your smartphone into the nearest lake, will they have your undivided attention once more.

Vivienne Michael, Chief Executive of Deafness Research UK, has been researching selective hearing with the hope “for improving not just the performance of implants and hearing aids, but the lives of people with hearing disabilities everywhere”. His research has found that the cocktail effect is problematic, particularly for those with one functional ear, and one ear affected by hearing loss. The background of a noisy party, in such cases, cannot be easily dampened out by the brain in favor of focusing in on a certain conversation or sound. The result is an almost dizzying effect wherein the subject is unable to differentiate between sounds, and is instead bombarded with a wall of chatter that cannot be deciphered with ease. Michael believes, as a result, “the auditory system in the brain mix and match sounds from different ears, and then filter out the unwanted noise”. Michael is hopeful that future research will “match the electronic signals of a cochlear (the inner ear) implant with the brain’s requirements for listening” in a noisy environment.

The Future of Hearing

Companies such as Mimi Hearing Technologies, are dedicated to keeping up with the latest and greatest of research in hearing loss. You can take a test here to check how your hearing is holding up, and consider your options as a result. If for example, you’ve noticed your left hear has started to lose its vigor somewhat, and you’re not about to give up on cocktail parties just yet, the answer could be as simple as an ear plug in the weaker ear. Mimi can personalize the external sounds of the world to suit your individual needs. With the advances of smartphones and the digitalization of the hearing aid market, the future of hearing is clearer than ever.

So next time a loved one shushes you in order to eavesdrop on a conversation, don’t be too offended. Simply pop in an ear plug, and soak in the gossip. Your eavesdropping ancestors would be proud.

Commissioned by Mimi Hearing Technologies, 2017. View article on website here.