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January 3, 2003

Study finds hearing aids help more than just conversation

From: Monroe Times, WI - 03 Jan 2003

The Monroe Clinic audiology department has added a hearing aid dispensing program to the current provided services. Hearing aids are being offered in a variety of technologies ranging from analog (conventional) to high-end digital models. All technologies are available in different styles from the behind-the-ear to the completely-in-the-canal hearing aid.

A large study, with a sample size of 3,400 individuals, conducted by the National Counsel on the Aging found that hearing aid use is positively correlated with:

* greater earning power, especially for more severe impairments;

* improved interpersonal relationships and better intimacy;

* reduction in discrimination of the hearing impaired individual;

* improved health status and less incidence of pain;

* reduction in anger and frustration;

* reduced depression and depressive symptoms; and,

* reduced anxiety, which might possibly be due to better earning power and health status.

It is a fact that the incidence of hearing impairment increases significantly with age (50 percent of those over 75 years); however a dramatic increase (10 percent) in incidence is arising for baby boomers, age 40-50 years old.

Experts agree that noise induced hearing loss is the likely cause of the statistical increase. High decibel rock concerts, stereos, sporting events, power tools, and recreational vehicles are some examples of the noise induced hearing loss assailants.

If you feel you are one of the 28 million Americans who might be suffering from hearing loss, please speak to your doctor about getting a hearing screening. Signs or symptoms of hearing loss can include:

* ringing in the ears;

* difficulty following conversations (especially in background noise);

* people seem to be mumbling;

* turning up the T.V. volume;

* avoiding social activities;

* family members suggesting you get a hearing test; and,

* not hearing the phone or doorbell ring.

If it should be determined you have a hearing loss, the audiologist, the health care provider who tests hearing, will counsel you on the results and share these with your physician.

Treatment options or a possible referral to an otolaryngologist for medical treatment will be offered. If hearing aids are the only way to treat your hearing loss, a 30 day-trial-period is offered to see if you should receive benefit from amplification.

If you are not satisfied with the hearing aid/s, you may return them for a full refund minus a $50 service fee.

On a different note, the audiology department would like to add that even for normal hearing individuals, it is advised that you have a baseline hearing test. Baseline hearing tests become a crucial tool in making a diagnosis if an individuals hearing should worsen suddenly.

An annual hearing test is just a simple way for you and your physician to monitor your hearing status. You don't think twice about your vision being screened -- why not your hearing as well?

-- Dana Olson is an audiologist with The Monroe Clinic

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