Last Monday, “The Bachelor” contestant Daisy Kent stole America’s hearts while courting the Season 28 lead, Joey Graziadei, opening up about her profound hearing loss on their first one-on-one date.
The 25-year-old received a cochlear implant last year after losing her hearing, which she believes may have been triggered by Lyme disease and, subsequently, Ménière’s disease, an inner ear condition common in adults that causes poor fluid balance in the ear, tinnitus, vertigo and can destroy the cochlea, the hearing organ.
The Minnesota native has documented her journey from surgery to implant activation and beyond on TikTok, where she now boasts more than 142,000 followers and her candid conversation about her condition has inspired others experiencing hearing loss.
“There’s a stigma with hearing loss, and there’s a stigma with hearing aids as well,” board-certified ENT otolaryngologist Dr. Aaron Fletcher told The Post.
“If you’ve ever seen someone with a cochlear implant, it just looks different — it’s literally anchored into the skull with a magnet.”
According to Fletcher, there is no proven link between Lyme and Ménière’s disease, although Kent has said online that a combination of the two is what her doctors believe could be behind her hearing loss at such a young age.
Ménière’s disease, which is managed like a diet low on salt, is typically hereditary, explained Fletcher, although Kent has previously explained that no one in her family has a history of the condition.
Management of Ménière’s disease — by way of maintaining fluid balance through lowering salt intake, for example — is vital to having “more time with your hearing,” he added.
“If you’re not managing the Ménière’s, in the span of years or decades, you can lose your hearing completely,” he explained, adding that, traditionally, it takes “many years,” decades even, for hearing to go completely, which is why it’s more common in older adults.
While an estimated 40 million people over the age of 18 have trouble hearing to varying degrees, Kent’s case, he said, must have been “severe.”
“It’s not really common to see it in someone 25 that actually has Ménière’s that’s caused hearing loss completely,” he noted.
Cochlear implants, as Kent has, are reserved for patients who struggle to hear clearly, he added, since such hearing loss cannot be mitigated by hearing aids, which “basically just turns up the sound.”
The implants, however, take a substantial amount of time for the brain to get used to — Kent said that, upon first activating her implant, everyone’s voices were high-pitched and sounded like chipmunks.
While experiences vary from person to person, it could take years, Fletcher said, for someone’s hearing to be fully rehabilitated.
But because of the stigma surrounding cochlear implants and hearing loss in general, Kent’s transparency about her own journey could educate those who aren’t familiar with the condition and devices.
Fletcher said that some patients who use hearing devices are “constantly having to educate people” about them.
“I think it’s good to have somebody on the national scene that is helping to break the ice on that topic, because…there’s some kids that are actually having cochlear implants and having to go to school and probably explain ad nauseam what it is and what it does,” he said.
“But it’s good when you have some national attention to these kind of things.”