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What Did You Say?

More than 31 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss. That's about one in 10. And the numbers are bound to grow. Two out of three are below retirement age. According to a survey by the Better Hearing Institute, about 15 percent of Americans between 46 and 64 have hearing problems. Yet only about one in five people who could benefit from hearing devices actually wear them.

Hearing loss does not only affect your ability to hear. It can affect your short-term memory. What's the association? A recent study at Brandeis University found that older adults who had mild to moderate hearing loss used so much cognitive energy trying to listen that it diminished their ability to remember a short word list. That's not all. It can be exhausting to live with hearing loss—you have to concentrate so hard, particularly in a noisy setting. It's no surprise, then, that the National Council on Aging (NCOA) reports a higher rate of depression, anxiety, social isolation and paranoia in hearing-impaired (but untreated) adults age 50 or older compared to those who wear hearing aids.

Protect Against Hearing Loss

Hearing loss occurs over time and with regular and repeated exposure to loud noise. That's why it's important to know how to protect yourself from damage in the first place. Some helpful tips:

Wear earplugs around loud noises, such as lawnmowers, hunting and concerts. The earplugs must fit snugly with an airtight seal to be effective. Earmuffs which cover the entire outside of the ear can work, too. But don't think you can stuff a tissue in your ear—cotton will not do the job. Woman’s custom ear molds take just a week to make and offer a comfortable fit.

Watch the volume on your headset. If your neighbor can hear the music, it's likely too loud for you to be listening to at that volume. Consider our custom ear molds for Apple iPod™ line of earbuds or any other MP3 player earphones.

Be aware that some medications can damage the inner ear (like the antibiotic gentamicin and certain chemotherapy drugs). Very high doses of aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NASAIDs) can also temporarily affect your hearing, whether through hearing loss or ringing in the ear (tinnitus), as can antimalarial drugs or loop diuretics. Likewise, some illnesses that result in high fevers, like meningitis, can damage the cochlea.

Baby Boomers, Hearing Loss, and Hearing Devices

A fact sheet from betterhearing.org states:

  • Advances in digital technology have dramatically improved hearing aids. They are smaller than ever with far better sound quality.
  • Top-of-the-line models feature "directional" or "high definition" hearing. These devices use two microphones and an algorithm to enhance sound coming from the front (the person you are talking to), while tuning down sound coming from behind (the rest of the noisy party).
  • The creation of devices using Bluetooth communication technology can turn select hearing aids into wireless, hands-free headsets.
  • A promising advancement related to the use of Bluetooth technology is the ability to make hearing aids compatible with cell phones, currently of serious concern to hearing aid users.
  • Nine out of 10 hearing aid users report improvements in their quality of life, according to a survey of more than 2,300 consumers by the Better Hearing Institute.

Schedule a hearing test or an appointment for a custom earmold. Call Woman's Center for Wellness at 225-924-8450.


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