About 1 in 10 people in our country, or about 28 million, are hearing impaired. Hearing loss ranks second only to arthritis as the health problem that most inhibits the functioning of people aged 65 and older. . Approximately 60 percent of hearing impaired people are under the age of 65. Though hearing loss affects all ages, it becomes more prevalent as we grow older. About a quarter of those between 65 and 74 have significant hearing loss.
As this generation of baby boomers reach middle-age, a time when hearing loss frequently becomes more noticeable, they face concerns about what to do about their hearing loss. Boomers may have more hearing problems at an earlier age than previous generations. Their noisy lifestyle, with prolonged exposure to rock concerts, loud stereos, city traffic, power tools, and lawn mowers, may take its toll on their ears. Hearing professionals confirm that they are seeing more younger clients seeking help with hearing loss.
Most hearing loss can be helped – but not cured – by hearing aids. Yet most people with hearing loss don’t take advantage of this help. Almost everyone with a hearing loss hears better with a hearing aid, yet only 20 percent of those who need a hearing aid have one.
Q: What causes hearing impairment?
A: Hearing impairment is caused by many factors including allergies, drugs, genetics, age, tumors, middle ear infections, excessive exposure to environmental noise, birth defects and traumatic injury.
Q: Are all hearing losses the same?
A: No. There are two basic types of hearing loss: conductive and sensorineural. Conductive hearing loss may be caused by excessive ear wax or fluid in the ear. These conditions should be treated by a physician. Yet, other forms of conductive losses may be helped with a hearing aid. Sensorineural loss is usually caused by damage to the cochlea or auditory nerve. Hearing aids most often offset this type of hearing loss.
Q: What are the implications of hearing loss?
A: If left untreated, hearing loss can severely impact individuals’ personal and professional lives by depriving them of the ability to communicate efficiently.
Q: Will a hearing aid improve hearing?
A: Hearing aids amplify sound and make it easier to participate in all kinds of listening situations, whether at work or at leisure. Although hearing aids will not restore natural hearing ability or cure damage, hearing aids do enable many people to hear better.