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How to live like the experts: Protecting your hearing with Dr. Vincent Lin

Written by Monica Matys

This series, “how to live like the experts,” asks the question: ever wonder if your doctor or specialist follows their own advice? Sunnybrook experts get candid with the approaches they take in their personal lives.

Dr. Vincent Lin is an otolaryngologist (head and neck surgeon). He has worked at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre since 2008.

You definitely know to avoid loud noises today. Was that always the case?

My family has a musical background, so I took piano when I was growing up. Music was a big part of my life, but I’m guilty of listening too loudly. Today, I have high-frequency tinnitus which causes a constant ringing sound.

How about concerts—pre-COVID, of course!

I’ve never gone to an actual rock concert, but remember going to a few loud clubs when I was in university. You know, the kind that leave your ears ringing afterwards. That for sure played a part in my developing tinnitus.

Does that mean you’re pretty strict with your three kids when it comes to limiting loud music?

Being around the teen years, I try to highlight how important it is for them to listen to things at a reasonable volume. Every once in a while, I’ll check the volume on their earbuds.

So what do you do day-to-day to safeguard your own hearing?

I still enjoy listening to music and watching movies, but try to keep the volume lower. With a lot of earbud devices, you can set volume limiters, which are really helpful. When I’m on a call, I try to put it on speaker phone when possible. Doctors are not always great at practicing what they preach, but I’m trying!

We go to our cottage regularly, and the maintenance on that property requires the use of a lot of power tools. I use muffs or ear inserts when I’m using those. They protect from further damage, and also show my kids that hearing protection is important. When I’m not working, I cherish those quiet moments at the cottage so much. When you get up there, you realize how much environmental noise we are constantly surrounded by in the city.

What’s your top piece of advice for the rest of us?

Seeing how disabling hearing loss or tinnitus can be, even little protective steps done over time can make a big difference. As I can attest to, you often don’t think about hearing loss until it happens to you.

About the author

Monica Matys

Monica Matys is a Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook.

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