'Hearing loss isn't funny'

Actress Rula Lenska, 65, lost her hearing a decade ago after picking up an ear infection when she was on a diving holiday. She now wears hearing aids in both ears.

“I hadn’t noticed that my hearing was getting worse. Although I recognised that I listened to the TV loud, and often thought that people were mumbling, I never realised that the underlying reason was because I was losing my hearing.

“Then eight years ago, during a health check, tests showed that I had lost some of the higher register of hearing in both my ears. I was too young for it to be age-related, nor was it hereditary, so the doctors thought it was caused by ear infections I picked up from coral diving.

“As an actress, my voice and hearing are a huge part of my life, so I decided to get hearing aids fitted and opted for behind-the-ear ones.

“It was a revelation when I was fitted with my hearing aid – and a shock to hear how much I’d been missing ordinary, everyday sounds, especially high-pitched ones. I was also surprised to discover that the hearing aid was virtually invisible.

“I didn’t realise how far advanced hearing aid technology has become. We’ve certainly moved on a long way from the boxes around the neck. For instance, you can now get a hearing aid that is hidden in your inner ear canal so no-one can see that you’re wearing it."

Rula’s decided to speak out now about her hearing loss in an attempt to dispel some of the stigma surrounding the condition.

“Having battled for the past decade, I know that coping with hearing difficulties can take an enormous amount of bravery. There’s still so much stigma attached to hearing loss and jokes told about a condition that really isn’t funny.

“It was very difficult for me to come to terms with my hearing loss and even more difficult to admit it. But I’ve now come to see it as part of me. I refuse to let it shape my life negatively. And although it takes adjustment, it doesn’t signal the end of your life. I want to talk about my hearing loss and, by doing so, encourage others to do the same.”

Rula was a supporter of 2011’s Sound Barrier Star Awards in association with Hearing Dogs for Deaf People and Specsavers Hearing Centres, which rewards people who have overcome their hearing loss and achieved something special.

Page last reviewed: 31/01/2015

Next review due: 31/01/2017

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