Facing Facts and Fears About Hearing Loss

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Hearing Loss

If everyone is mumbling and your partner is complaining about the loud TV volume, perhaps your hearing isn't what it once was.

Roughly one-third of Americans over age 60 and 40 percent to 50 percent of adults 75 and older have hearing loss.

Even though it's common, some people are reluctant to deal with their hearing loss because of embarrassment or worry about seeming old. But if you suspect hearing loss, the most important thing you can do is see a doctor or an audiologist, advises the April issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource.

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An audiologist can assess your hearing loss and measure the severity through various tests. Factors that contribute to hearing loss include aging, loud noises, heredity, certain medications and some illnesses. Often, hearing loss identified early can be helped.

Hearing aids may be recommended. Many of today's hearing aids are substantially better than those your parents or grandparents may have worn. Some fit discretely behind your ear. Others fit inside your outer ear or in the ear canal.

Other listening devices can help you use the telephone or better hear the TV or stereo. These communication aids aren't meant to replace hearing aids but they can enhance your hearing in certain situations.

If your hearing loss is too severe for hearing aids, you may be a candidate for a cochlear implant - a small electronic device that the surgeon places in your inner ear. It doesn't restore normal hearing but it can help you be more aware of your surroundings and better understand speech.

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