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How To: Determine if you have hearing loss

November 13, 2009

Hearing loss is more common than many people realize. Current statistics show that more than 31 millions Americans have a significant hearing loss. Of the most common healthrelated problems in American today, hearing loss is ranked third proceeded by high blood pressure and arthritis.

However, only one in five people who could benefit from hearing aids actually wears amplification.

We are born with all the sensory cells we will have for hearing. These cells begin diminishing as young as 18. However, because hearing decreases over time, it often goes unnoticed until we are in our 50s.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders reports that about 15 percent of individuals between the ages of 20 and 69 experience highfrequency hearing loss due to loud noise exposure. That equates to about 26 million people.

Hearing loss affects quality of life: Individuals with undiagnosed hearing loss report feeling fatigued, frustrated, and embar- rassed when around others or in noisy environments.

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When that hearing loss goes untreated, individuals report more symptoms of dissatis- faction with life, reduced functional health and with-drawal from social activities.

On the other hand, individuals with hearing loss who wear hearing aids report improvements in their social, emotional, psychological and physical wellbeing. Friends and family members are also affected by a loved one with an undiagnosed hearing loss. They experience a similar fatigue from speaking loudly or having to repeat statements.

They also report greater concerns for safety and worry that their loved one may not hear alarms, warning signals and doctor's instructions.

Similar to our annual eye exams, it is important to have your hearing checked on a yearly basis. This allows your Audiologist to monitor changes over time and make adjustments to your hearing aids that will allow for a better quality of life in all your changing listening environment. There is help available: Today's small, digital hearing aids are able to amplify the sounds you want to hear while reducing the sounds you don't. They can switch between programs automatically when you walk from a quite car into a noisy restaurant. Hearing aids are even Bluetooth compatible and can be used with your cell phone and TV to hear more clearly. The Better Hearing Institute found that 95 percent of people with hearing loss can be helped with today's advanced hearing aids.

Each hearing aid model has different features that are designed to provide benefits in various listening environments. Therefore, what is right for one person may not be right for another. The hearing aid that is best for you will depend on many factors, including the amount of hearing loss and the types of listening situations that are part of your daily life. Your hearing professional can make the best recommendation on which style and brand of hearing aid will be best for you.

It is also important to remember that being able to hear with both ears is as impor-tant as being able to see with both eyes. Two hearing aids can be beneficial in attaining a more balanced sense of hearing,providing better speech understanding in noisy situations and achieving a better sense of direction for locating the source of a sound. It is easy to schedule an appointment for a hearing screening and many clinics will offer your initial consultation for free. This will help you know if you could benefit from today's state-of-the-art hearing aid technology. Call today to schedule your annual hearing screening.

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