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May 29, 2004

Listen up, hearing loss affects 28 million in US

From: Bradenton Herald, FL - May 29, 2004

Dear Savvy Senior: My husband, who is 58 years old, has a hearing problem particularly when we are in public places where there is a lot of people and background noise. I keep telling him to go get it checked out and see what he can do to help, but he refuses. He says hearing aids are ugly and that he's too young to start wearing one. Can you please provide me some facts about basic hearing loss and some different hearing aid options for vain senior citizens? I want to do something for him before it gets any worse.

Thank you.

- Can't hear and won't admit it.

Dear Can't Hear: WHAT DID YOU SAY??? A savvy fact about hearing loss is that it affects more than 28 million Americans of all ages and is especially prevalent in seniors 60 and above. Furthermore, only about 20 percent of Americans who need a hearing aid actually wear one, largely because the devices are perceived as totally unsavvy. Because hearing loss can develop over several years, most people are not aware of the extent of their loss until family or friends bring it to their attention. Even then they might deny that they have difficulty hearing.


• Difficulty hearing high-pitched sounds, such as women's and children's voices, as well as birds singing.

• Difficulty hearing at public gatherings: concert halls, theaters, houses of worship - where sound sources are far from the listener.

• Difficulty understanding conversations within a group of people, or on the telephone.

Three general types of hearing loss:

• Sensorineural hearing loss (most common) is characterized by deterioration of the cochlea. Causes are the result of the aging process, exposure to loud noise, or a congenital problem.

• Conductive hearing loss occurs when the eardrum, bones and membranes don't properly transmit vibrations to the cochlea. Causes include traumatic head injury or birth defects.

• Mixed hearing loss involves a combination of both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss.

A savvy note: No two people have the same type of hearing loss.

What are the options you ask? There are many varied hearing aid styles and advanced technologies available out there, depending on individual need and budget. You should contact your Hearing Health Care Professional for more specific information.

Ss far as hearing aid vanity goes, did you know that President Bill Clinton wore a completely-in-the-canal model hearing aid for most of the last four years of his presidency. Who knew?

Learn more

For more information on hearing loss and hearing aid styles and technology, computer savvy seniors should check out the World Wide Web for unlimited information. Here are a few savvy sites to start with:

• For a free hearing test:

• National Campaign for Hearing Health:

• American Speech-Language-Hearing Association:

• Sight and hearing information:

• Government Health Finder:

• Better Hearing:

Send senior questions to Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit

© 2004 Bradenton Herald and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.