An Unheard Loss

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"Stop the Decibel Damage" [July 16] struck a deep chord with me.

I have a 105-dB loss in each ear. It has been a quiet world for me for more than 40 years as a disabled veteran of the Korean conflict. I was exposed to severe cannon, grenades, and gunfire for an extended period of time and had severely inflamed eardrums for years. When I be came a registered pharmacist in pharmaceutical research and development, I battled for promotions and salary increases in the 1950s and 1960s because my hearing impairment was considered a handicap to the company then. I was offered a cochlear implant in my 60s, but I refused it since retirement was near. Hearing loss is a hidden disability that sometimes can be disguised and unknown until frequent slip-ups are caught. But the real inner pain is missing out on true human contact. The little nuances, tiny chitchats, and numerous sounds pass by hearing unfortunates. We need to protect those earlobes and inner-ear structures from harm. Hearing loss pushes us further away from people than blindness does.

Louis G. Daunora

Lakewood , Colo.  

"Stop the Decibel Damage" was a much-needed exposé on the out-of-control noise in our environment. It doesn't have to be this way if the laws that regulate the manufacture of motorized machines and vehicles are enforced. What Dr. Bernadine Healy and other medical and health industry leaders need to do is get the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce the laws that regulate noise. Until then, her message will continue to fall on deaf ears.

Vince Koehler

South Milwaukee , Wis.  

There is an emotional side to the sounds of machines, ranging from angry outbursts to depressing moans and groans that ears can hear. By contrast, consider the optimistic, buoyant songs of birds and sounds of nature, especially in the countryside. This is where Beethoven got the idea for his Pastoral Symphony. And, no doubt, today a budding composer who wishes to inspire and uplift must protect his astute ears from any and all forms of sound pollution and decibel damage.

Marie Gaertner

Canonsburg, Pa.  

Before going into the army in 1954, I had very good hearing. During my service, I fired several kinds of weapons, but most often I fired the standard issue M-1 rifle. I remember the ringing in my ears after two continuous weeks of firing. Several years later, an audiologist testing my hearing told me I had tinnitus. It got to the point where I needed a hearing aid in my right ear. The Veterans Administration's position on the matter was if my hearing loss was a consequence of firing a rifle, it would have been in my left ear, not my right. The reasoning was that my left ear would be closer to the muzzle blast. I have hearing aids in both ears now and have spent thousands on them. Hearing aids don't restore your loss; they simply get you as close as they can.

Ed Ver Hoef

Boonsboro , Md.