What Should Be Done About Hearing Loss? By The New York Times

Judging purely by the responses to Ask an Expert, hearing problems are an enormous concern for baby boomers, rivaled only by worries about memory. More than 200 people wrote to this week’s expert on hearing, Neil J. DiSarno, chief staff officer for audiology at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and from 1998 to 2012 was chairman of the department of communication sciences and disorders at Missouri State University.

First, I would like to point out that although the effects of hearing loss differ as a result of type and degree of impairment, one important aspect to be mindful of is that the use of hearing aids is only part of a plan of treatment. Although it is a prime component, amplification in the form of hearing aids only brings sounds closer to the individual. How the individual’s auditory system processes that information differs considerably among those with impaired hearing. This is one reason some individuals benefit greatly from the use of hearing aids and others somewhat less.
The treatment following the fitting of hearing aids includes extensive counseling that is tailored to the degree of impairment as well as the lifestyle of the individual user. Hearing aid users must establish realistic expectations with regard to the benefit they can expect. Although hearing aids have become more technologically advanced in recent years, it must be kept in mind that the auditory system is the most complex organ in the human body. When it becomes altered, either through the process of normal aging, or other health-related factors, it can leave the individual with limitations ranging from an inability to hear soft speech which is easily addressed by hearing aids, to complete inability to understand any speech information, even when using very powerful hearing aids. Read more…

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