Only a Person with Hearing Loss Can Tell You This

If you have hearing loss, you probably know a lot about it. Most of it you may not like, but the more information you have about your hearing loss, the better you will deal with it.

It helps to know, or at least be aware, of what you should do or not do. Strategies that improve your understanding and practices that don’t. You probably get your information from your hearing healthcare professional, from the internet and/or from consumer hearing loss organizations. And this is all good!

But as a person with lifelong hearing loss, I can tell you this: there’s important info that you won’t get from your audiologist or hearing loss websites. I’m talking about the nitty-gritty stuff, the reality checks and  helpful tips, that only another person with hearing loss can tell you about because they’ve gone through it. 

Here are a few:

Not telling people that you have hearing loss doesn’t help you hear them any better.

After showering, you should wait half an hour before putting your hearing aid in so that your ear can dry completely and prevent kaka from getting into the aid. (An audiologist will tell you this, but only if you ask, “How long should I wait after a shower before putting my hearing aid in?)

Saying pardon once is good. Saying it twice for the same thing is not great, but still OK. But saying it three times makes you sound dense and desperate! If you don’t get what was said by the second try, something has got to change! Ask the speaker to rephrase, or say what you thought you heard and then clarify. Or fix the place you’re in – remember, lighting up, noise down!
You can’t read lips of the person you’re walking beside, without eventually bumping into something.

Saying what instead of pardon is a little rude, unless it’s your family.

Calling to someone in another room isn’t going to work, because you won’t understand them when they respond. It’s no different than them calling out to you, right? Sometimes we, the people with hearing loss, don’t follow our own communication rules.  

In a hotel, even with vibrating alarms and flashing lights to wake you up for an early checkout, you still keep waking up EVERY HALF HOUR to see if the alarm has flashed or vibrated yet.

It’s permissible for speechreaders (that’s us) to tell someone they have spinach on their teeth or whip cream caught in the facial hair around their moth. Yucky, but necessary because we need to concentrate.

You ask to sit in the middle at a large dinner table for a better chance at following the conversation. That would work if the people on the other side of the table are the only ones talking. (Think about it, then get a round table.)

Before go in the shower, you pat your ears at least 10 times to make sure you took your devices out. And when the water starts, you pat them one more time.

A failproof way to fire up your tinnitus, is to hear the word ‘tinnitus. 

Your hearing aid battery dies. You hadn’t heard the warning signal. For the next 60 heart-stopping, terrifying seconds until you put a fresh one in, you’re convinced your hearing aid is also dead. Every time.

When you tell someone you have hearing loss and they immediately say pardon, you should laugh. Yes, laugh, even though you’ve heard the same stupid joke a million times. It doesn’t have to be big laugh, just a small one, so that you both can move on. Besides, laughter is easy to understand.


There’s a lot more ‘stuff’ that only a person who’s one of us, the people with hearing loss, can tell you. Useful, insider kind of stuff. Reach out today to someone like you, today. 










About Gael Hannan

The Better HearingConsumer addresses the personal experience of living with hearing loss. Editor Gael Hannan and her occasional guest bloggers explore every corner of the hearing loss life with humor and poignancy. Comment Policy   Gael Hannan, Editor Gael Hannan is an author, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog at the Better Hearing Consumer, which has a passionate international following,Gael has written two acclaimed books, “The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss”and “Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss”, written with Shari Eberts. She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work that advocates for individuals to become more knowledgeable and successful at dealing with their hearing loss and a more inclusive society for them to live in. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, Canada. Books and other media Hear & Beyond: Live Skillfully with Hearing Loss. Written with Shari Eberts and available anywhere books are sold. The Way I Hear It: A Life With Hearing Loss. Available through online bookstores. Unheard Voices, DVD, vignettes from the hearing loss life. Contact Gael Hannan to order.


  1. Dear Gael,

    I’ve been reading up on your articles after seeing your post in Audiology Best Practices and I love what you’ve written. I just wanted to add to your commentary that there are several audiologists with hearing loss. I am an audiologist who has worn hearing aids since childhood and two of my other siblings also have hearing loss. We grew up without accommodations, but we had each other. We definitely had some hilarious conversations growing up! I have given the same advice you’ve mentioned in this article to my patients as well as their family members. I’m always amazed that the suggestions I give family members for better communication strategies did not ever cross their minds. They seem so obvious from our point of view. I ask them to post the “Ten Commandments” for better communication on their refrigerator as a reminder for all of the family members.

  2. Hello Gael, I was wondering how you started to public speak about your hearing loss, I have so many stories that I could share with others, just need some guidance in how to begin. Of course, once COVID is over with. Thank you and Great article.

  3. I just loved your hotel room comment. I must order your book. Another one is using your cell alarm under the pillow. I spend all nig he checking to see if it’s still there or fallen to the floor.

  4. Another one that I call the Murphy’s Law of wearing devices is: the one time
    You don’t have extra batteries on you will be when you need to change your batteries.

    1. I often forget to bring batteries when traveling. So I buy one at nearest drug store. I often end up three or four packets of batteries on my dresser!

  5. Just today, I had the alarm clock episode. I lost a lot of sleep over it. And ended up canceling everything. I am plenty upset with myself. :(

    1. Barbara, I hope you’ve forgiven yourself by now. I”m sorry you had to cancel, but next time it will be better!

    2. That goes double when grand kids sleep over, afraid the young ones will wake disoriented and I won’t hear them.. no sleep

    1. Happens to me many times. I often have 3 or 4 packets of batteries on my dresser. Cause I had to buy a new packet while out somewhere far from home!

  6. Brilliant and funny, as always!

    Thanks for this.

    Joining a group like HLAA is soo important!

    Birds of a feather… we get it.

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