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Hearing Loss Increases Among Baby Boomers

Armen Hareyan's picture

(ARA) - Rock'n roll, loud cars, and noisy lifestyles are taking their toll on the baby boomers. Of the more than 75 million Americans born between 1945 and 1964, 20.4 percent -- or 16 million people -- suffer from some degree of hearing loss.

Among the celebrities dealing with the problem, former President Bill Clinton, singing icon Barbara Streisand, actors Steve Martin and William Shatner, and late night TV talk show host David Letterman.

"If your family members frequently ask you to turn down the volume on the television or you have to strain to hear conversations going on around you, chances are good you too suffer from some degree of hearing loss. Don't suffer, make an appointment with an audiologist to see if you need a hearing aid," says James F. Battey, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., director of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.

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Hearing loss has traditionally been associated with aging. But the real culprit is noise and because of the lifestyle baby boomers have led, many have diminished hearing. With today's fast-paced lifestyle, hearing loss is not only a tremendous inconvenience; it can be a matter of personal safety. Feelings of isolation and subsequent depression may find their roots in common, progressive hearing loss.

"We live in a society that is increasingly noisy," says Battey. "From loud traffic and yard tools to loud equipment in the workplace, it seems people are bombarded with dangerous levels of noise."

If you already suffer from hearing loss, it's too late to reverse the damage, but there are steps you can take to prevent your situation from getting any worse. Dr. Battey recommends you start wearing earplugs -- sold in most drugstores -- when around loud power tools or attending loud concerts.

If hearing loss is already severe, you may need a hearing aid. Before deciding which company to go with, do a little checking around. Among the factors Dr. Battey says you should compare: price, capability, feedback control, and warranty.

These are exactly the factors that one manufacturer designed its latest product around. When it comes to warranty, most companies offer one, maybe two years (at extra cost) on repairs. "We have