Rula Lenska health: ‘It was getting hard tuning into conversations’ – Signs and symptoms
Rula Lenska, 70, is an actress who has assumed many different roles over her long and successful career. She famously starred in a series of commercials for Alberto VO5 hairspray in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Although she is best known for her memorable acting performances in TV and theatre. The star revealed yet another side to her personality a couple of years back. Speaking to the Mirror, she opened up about her chronic hearing loss and and impact it has had on her life.
Hearing loss can have many different causes. Sudden hearing loss in one ear, for example, may be due to earwax, an ear infection, a perforated (burst) eardrum or Ménière’s disease, according to the NHS.
Lenska traces her hearing loss back to her scuba diving days: “Back in the late 90s, I picked up an ear infection after diving off the Caribbean island of St Lucia.
“I’d been diving near coral. Being a living organism, it can enter your ear and damage the cilia – the tiny hairs in the inner ear – and lead to loss of hearing.
“Not long after my holiday, the infection set in and my ear was excruciatingly painful. I was prescribed strong antibiotics to clear it up but it took ages to heal.”
The actress added: “Although it’s difficult to pinpoint, it’s probably from that moment that my hearing began deteriorating.”
I started shying away from social events
It is not always easy to tell identity hearing loss, explained the NHS, but common signs include:
- Difficulty hearing other people clearly, and misunderstanding what they say, especially in noisy places
- Asking people to repeat themselves
- Listening to music or watching television loudly
- Having to concentrate hard to hear what other people are saying, which can be tiring or stressful
“The signs can be slightly different if you only have hearing loss in one ear or if a young child has hearing loss,” added the NHS.
Lenska divulged to The Mirror about the toll these symptoms took on her everyday life: “I didn’t start realising something was wrong until I began turning up the TV, not realising people were talking to me if my back was turned and, increasingly, having to ask people to repeat what they said.
“In a big room with ambient noise and music, it was getting hard tuning in to conversations.
“Women and children with high-pitched voices were a struggle to hear clearly. Even intimate whispering was difficult to understand.
“I started shying away from social events because it took so much energy and concentration to hear anything, resulting in a stiff neck and shoulders from the strain. It wasn’t much fun.”
The star also said the stigma surrounding hearing loss made the experience harder: “It makes me angry and is one reason why I decided to admit to my hearing loss publicly. There are many people with this problem and if you don’t admit it, life is more difficult.”
There are several ways to treat hearing loss. Sometimes it gets better on its own, or may be treated with medicine or a simple procedure. “For example, earwax can be sucked out, or softened with eardrops,” noted the NHS.
But other types – such as gradual hearing loss, which often happens as a person get older – may be permanent. In these cases, treatment can help make the most of the remaining hearing, explained the NHS.
Her profession initially aided her hearing loss, admitted Lenksa: “Thankfully, actors enunciate carefully on stage and screen so it didn’t affect my work too much.”
After her doctor referred me to a specialist, the Corrie star got a hearing aid fitted: “Nothing replicates the hearing you have naturally but there are some brilliant aids on the market, which almost make up for it.
“When I began wearing mine, it was amazing the sounds I started hearing again.”
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