Have you ever experienced sudden or unexpected hearing loss? This experience usually occurs after exposure to loud sound, like a gunshot or emergency sirens, so it’s not hard to trace the hearing loss back to its source. But have you ever experienced sudden hearing loss and not been able to pinpoint how or why it started? That’s what happened to US and Canadian diplomats in Cuba last year.
What Causes Sudden Hearing Loss
Sudden hearing loss can happen in a few different ways. One way is through blockage or damage to the ear caused by illness, injury, earwax blockage, or even certain medications. Most commonly though, loud noises cause sudden hearing loss. Loud noises usually lead to gradual hearing loss, for example if you’re working every day on a noisy construction site. This slowly chips away at your hearing, and you’ll start to notice the signs of hearing loss. But if you’re exposed to one, extremely loud noise, like a gunshot or screaming fans at a baseball game, you’ll have sudden hearing loss that can even be permanent.
US Diplomats Experience Hearing Loss
Lots of jobs put you at risk of hearing loss. Construction workers, manufacturers, farmers, and musicians all have hearing loss as an occupational hazard. One job that doesn’t top the list of risk for hearing loss is being a diplomat in a foreign country. That’s why the sudden hearing loss of US and Canadian diplomats in Havana, Cuba was so alarming and baffling. Before the cases of hearing loss were reported in the fall of 2016, there were no unexpectedly loud noises, and no other reports of hearing loss.
Along with hearing loss, the diplomats and their families experienced severe headaches, and some were even forced to return to the US to seek treatment for their debilitating symptoms. It’s unclear if their hearing loss was permanent, or if the diplomats are recovering some of their hearing.
What Happened to the Diplomats in Cuba
So, what happened? What caused these mysterious cases of hearing loss and headaches? They are believed to have been caused by a “sonic emission” from some sort of advanced sonic weapon that couldn’t be heard by the human ear, says the federal government. Unfortunately, they didn’t give any more details than that. It’s believed that these emissions were coming from somewhere near to, or even inside, the homes of the diplomats.
The US only reopened its embassy in Havana in 2015, after 54 years of severed diplomatic relations. While the US has been willing to reinstitute diplomatic relations with Cuba, these events seem to point to the unwillingness of Cuba to be in peaceful negotiations with the US. Heath Nauert, spokesperson for the State Department, says that in response to these attacks Washington expelled two Cuban diplomats earlier this spring.
Will These Sonic Emissions Continue?
While there’s no official word on whether these sonic emissions are expected to continue, some former diplomats don’t seem surprised by recent events. James Bartleman, a Canadian ambassador to Cuba from 1981 to 1983, says it wasn’t all that different during his stay in Cuba. He also experienced a number of strange events during his posting in Havana, including the poisoning of his family dog, a dead rat nailed to the door, and even threatening phone calls. Bartleman confronted the Cuban government about the attacks, and things went back to normal. It was never revealed why the Canadian diplomats were targeted, and it probably won’t in this case either.
Treating Hearing Loss
If you’ve recently experienced sudden hearing loss, we know it can be a challenging time. You’re used to being able to hear clearly, but suddenly everything’s gone quiet, and you’re left scrambling to relearn how to go about your day with impaired hearing. Don’t let this hearing loss get the better of you.
If you have hearing loss, visit us at Lifestyle Hearing Solutions for a comprehensive hearing test and consultation. If a hearing loss is detected, we will work with you to find the hearing device that will solve your hearing problems. Don’t settle for fuzzy conversations and miscommunications, but get fitted for the hearing aid that can give you back your hearing, help manage your tinnitus, and reconnect you to the sounds of your life.