Around one-third of older adults suffer from hearing loss caused by exposure to loud noise, aging, disease, and genetic factors, according to the National Institute on Aging. However, advances in regulation and technology are providing relief for many.

The late legendary drummer Ginger Baker (Cream, Blink Faith, and others), once stormed out of a London club complaining that the band was too loud. The group’s manager offered him earplugs. The irascible Baker’s response is not printable here. Suffice it to say, he declined the offer.

Sadly, Baker came to know the result of prolonged exposure to loud sounds. Baker, like many other rock musicians of his generation (Bob Dylan, Pete Townsend, Eric Clapton, and others)  suffered significant hearing loss.

Effects of Hearing Loss

Communication is vital to relationships. As a result, the loss of hearing can have a detrimental impact on your social life.

People with hearing loss not only have a hard time understanding others, but they also have a hard time being understood themselves. As a result, they can become socially isolated, which can lead to depression. In addition, that can evolve into dementia.

Causes of Hearing Loss

Loud noise can cause hearing loss. However, it is not just playing in front of Marshall amps cranked to the highest volume that causes us to lose hearing.

Fluid buildup in the ears can block sounds from getting to the inner ear. Your doctor may suggest treatments to loosen ear wax. However, one treatment that will not be recommended is cleaning your ears with a cotton swab. That is because putting objects in your ear can puncture your eardrum, which is another cause of hearing loss. Disease and infection can also cause damage to your eardrum.

Other health conditions can also cause hearing loss, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, heart attack, tumors, and otosclerosis. Even certain medications can result in hearing loss.

Hearing Aids Are More Accessible

Although there are many causes of hearing loss, the good news is there are a growing number of ways to deal with it. The implements that aid communication are called assistive devices, according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD).

Assistive devices are divided into three categories. 

  • Altering devices use senses other than hearing to alert users to certain tasks. Those include doorbells and smoke alarms that use light or vibration to signal users. 
  • Augmented and alternative communication devices vary from picture boards to computer software that generates speech from text.
  • Assistive listening devices amplify and/or clarify sound. This category includes hearing aids and the relatively new kid on the block – hearing loops. They enhance hearing air performance in public areas.

Many of these devices can be expensive. However, a breakthrough in consumer accessibility and cost occurred last year.

Hearing Aids

After five years of study, the Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the sale of over-the-counter hearing aids on October 17. 

That is a big deal, according to the NIDCD, because of the high prices of medical examinations and prescriptions. 

Of the 37.5 million Americans 18 and over with hearing problems, only about 20 percent get effective treatment due to cost.

A pair of prescription hearing aids averages $4,600, according to the National Council on Aging (NCOA). However, the price can be almost double that. The federal government has estimated consumers can save $3,000 by buying over-the-counter hearing aids.

Following the FDA’s action, Best Buy announced it would roll out hearing aid sales in over 300 stores. Prices range from under $300 to just over $3,000. However, there may be room for further technical advances and further price decreases as more companies enter the market and competition heats up.

2023-03-27T22:18:13Z dg43tfdfdgfd