In Shouting Won’t Help, Katherine Bouton has written the most useful and interesting book in print about hearing disability — its probable causes, possible prevention, and state-of-the-art treatments. The book’s science is flawless, yet more significant to me are Bouton’s moving confessions about the personal, psychological, and day-to-day effects of hearing loss. And thanks to sincerity and style, the author has managed to transform what might have been a ho-hum treatise about deafness into a thoroughly enjoyable book.
Hearing loss (in some degree) affects 48 million persons in the USA (17 percent of our population), and 275 million persons around the world. Among senior citizens over age 70, two-thirds experience some hearing disabilities. Of growing concern is the fact that almost 20 percent of American teenagers (ages 12 to 19) have some hearing loss, and 5 percent of teenagers suffer from a serious hearing impairment.
“When I first learned how many Americans are hearing impaired, I was astounded. Hearing problems outnumber vision problems by the tens of millions.”
I have been blessed with perfect hearing, thanks to the careful protection of my ears from any sounds even near to loud. Nevertheless, this book captivated me for two main reasons: the number of people I know who have hearing loss, and the insights about the bane of my existence: Noise. Loud noise is not only the leading cause of hearing disabilities, it is a disruptor of creative activities, and a source of annoyance and stress. Except for those happy few who have have managed to escape to a Bora-Bora, everyone in the modern world should be concerned about the dangerous impact of noise on health and on the quality of life.
Bouton’s third chapter “Bring in ‘Da Noise!” begins this way:
“The sad truth is that many of us are responsible for our own hearing loss. The cause isn’t disease or genetics or accidental exposure to a toxin, or an explosion. It’s the noise we blithely subject ourselves to day after day.”
Noise is everywhere. Sports events and gyms are too loud. Music concerts — hard rock and sometimes even classical — are too loud. Subway systems and public spaces in New York City are too loud. Restaurants are some of the worst offenders, often driven by profit, since studies show that people will drink alcohol faster under the influence of loud noise. Even toys for young children are too loud, and iPods and other music-playing devices are clearly harming our children’s ears.
In this chapter, too, Bouton describes Thomas Carlyle’s struggle — and Everywriter’s struggle — for a quiet place to think and write. And she reminds us that excessive exposure to noise causes or aggravates many other health problems including hypertension, heart disease, disruption of stress hormones, and sleeping disorders.
For more information about Shouting Won’t Help, visit the author’s website: http://www.katherinebouton.com/
Related Links About Hearing
Hearing Loss, Mayo Clinic
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)