Baby boomers are a generation that grew up on rock 'n roll and rebellion. They protested, they chanted, they made their voices heard. Now, many of those 40- and 50-somethings aren't hearing other people's voices as well as they should.
Melody James is one of them: "I was missing people's names and phone numbers," she admits.
James is 52. She has noise induced hearing loss and lays part of the blame on her youth, recalling, "Wonderful experiences from my life are in that period of my late teen to early 30s of going to concerts."
Loud music isn't the only culprit. It's the noise of everyday life, too. All these noises over time have the potential to cause hearing loss.
Dr. Thomas Roland is seeing more boomers who are straining to catch words in a crowded room. "Some have difficulty in theaters and movies. A big complaint is situations where there's background noise," Rowland says.
Like many of her peers, Melody James will soon get the help she needs. "I'm going to get my hearing aids and use them. But I've lost something and I can't get it back," she says.
Here are some of the warning signs of hearing loss: a ringing or buzzing in the ears; a slight muffling of sounds that makes it difficult to understand people, or a tendency to hear better from one ear.
To prevent hearing loss, avoid loud noise as much as possible. If you think it's "too loud," it probably is. If you need to be in a noisy place for an extended period of time, wear protection, like foam earplugs.
If it's too late to prevent it, it's time to consider a hearing aid. Many types of hearing aids are made for various kinds of hearing loss. People with noise-induced hearing loss can select a small digital aid. It costs more than most, as much as $3,000, but for some the sound is clearer.
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