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Unstoppable: What addressing my hearing loss meant for me

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Unstoppable: What addressing my hearing loss meant for me

by Bridget Dobyan, HIA Director of Public Policy & Advocacy

 

As the most recent addition to the Hearing Industries Association (HIA) team, I’m new to the industry, but have long been personally invested in hearing health.

At the age of 11, I experienced dramatic hearing loss in my left ear. The loss was not unexpected; after years spent fighting countless ear infections which led to more destructive middle ear conditions and several surgeries, I knew the hearing loss was coming. There was just too much damage to my ear and while reconstruction efforts were made to regain hearing, the loss persisted. However, I felt lucky – it was only my left ear that had the problem, my right ear (my “good ear” as I like to call it) was perfect. It was because of that reliance on my “good ear” that I didn’t initially put much thought into a hearing aid. Besides, at that point, I was an invincible teenager so why would I think I needed a hearing aid?

I was fortunate enough to be surrounded by an incredible team of physicians and audiologists – led by a brilliant ENT who has since retired – who suggested I consider a hearing aid. Given the damage to my ear and type of hearing loss, they recommended a bone-anchored hearing aid (BAHA). This began the longest-running joke that my family has today – asking me if I have a screw loose. You see, the BAHA uses bone conduction, which is achieved by putting a titanium screw in your skull to which the sound processor attaches.

The first time I turned the BAHA on it was like an entirely new world was opened to me. I hadn’t realized how much I was missing while relying mainly on one ear to hear. It was disconcerting at first with the sounds coming through and in a different way, but I had support from my doctors and audiologists and quickly acclimated to and embraced the technology.

Given my experience with hearing loss, hearing health is personal to me. Today, one in five teenagers suffer from some type of hearing loss and 65% of people with hearing loss are under 65 years old. This is not just a health issue for older adults, it’s one that everyone should pay attention to. Hearing aid technology is constantly evolving and innovating, and there are so many options and resources that can address different types of hearing loss.

With my BAHA, I have gone on to obtain a B.A. in political science and a Juris Doctor from Michigan State University College of Law. I am a licensed attorney in the State of Michigan, former Michigan Senate policy advisor, and former Legislative Director in the U.S. House of Representatives. Now I am a part of the hearing industry that has done so much for me.

With my BAHA, I have been unstoppable. This is why I am sharing my story. This is why I want to see more people take charge of their hearing health and understand the incredible options that are out there to address hearing loss. This is why I am a part of the hearing industry.

This is just my story, and everyone’s hearing loss journey is different. I encourage you to learn more and explore our resources at BetterHearing.org.

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