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Categories > Ears and Hearing > Hearing loss

Hear today, gone tomorrow

Your hearing problems have left you out of the loop and unable to engage in conversations with friends and family. It’s a common complaint, especially as you age. About one-third of Americans 65 to 75 years old have some hearing loss, and nearly half of those over age 75 do.

What’s that?

If you’re cranking up the volume on the TV more often than usual, or having trouble understanding what’s being said during phone conversations or in noisy places such as restaurants, ask your healthcare provider to test your ears. You may have age-related hearing loss, also known as presbycusis. Your troubles could also be caused by medications (chemotherapy drugs and high doses of aspirin, for example, can affect your hearing), heredity, illnesses (such as meningitis), head injury, exposure to loud noises or blood circulation problems, such as high blood pressure.

Now hear this

Today’s hearing devices are much improved, but many people don’t take advantage of them. If you’re suffering from hearing loss, ask your healthcare provider if any of the following could benefit you:

  • Hearing aids. This isn’t your mother’s clunky old device. Modern hearing aids can be discreet, fitting in the ear or completely hidden in the ear canal, and they’re extremely effective. Digital hearing aids use a computer chip to process sound and can easily adjust to different environments.
  • Cochlear implants. Severe hearing loss may be treated with a cochlear implant, a device that’s surgically implanted underneath the skin behind the ear. Inside the implant is a processor that collects sound waves and turns them into electrical impulses. These impulses are sent to the brain, where they’re interpreted as sound. The implant doesn’t restore hearing or make you hear normally, but it can help you understand speech.
  • Assistive listening devices. TV, radio and telephone listening systems can help you listen without hearing noises around you. Some hearing aids can be plugged into these devices to help you hear.