Hearing Loss: Can You Hear Me Now?

Can you hear me now? Apparently many cannot. The National Institutes of Health says that about 36 million Americans
already have some degree of hearing loss. With the population aging, that number is projected to jump to 78 million by 2030.

This month the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary is launching a national campaign featuring trumpeter/composer Chris Botti, with a voiceover by the musician Sting, to raise awareness of hearing health among baby boomers. The campaign will include an educational website -- -- and a “Favorite Sounds Sweepstakes" on the group's Facebook page where users are invited to submit their favorite sounds; the winner and 10 friends get to have dinner with Chris Botti at The Infirmary’s November 15 fundraising gala.

Huff/Post50 got some hearing tips from Dr. Ronald Hoffman, medical director of the Ear Institute at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary:

Get your hearing checked.

Just like some other health issues, the key to effective treatment is identifying hearing loss early. It takes people seven years, on average, from the time someone thinks they have a hearing loss problem to the time they seek treatment.

Be aware of which activities may post a threat to your hearing.

Years of exposure to loud concerts, bars and clubs, cranked-up stereos, personal music players, lawn mowers and other environmental noises may some of the reasons we are now seeing more baby boomers with hearing loss. A single loud noise, such as an explosion or a gun blast, can do permanent damage to the structures in the ear. But more often, it's years of exposure to loud sounds.

Get checked out if you're blasted by one of those single loud noises.

If, after exposure to loud sound, your ears feel full or there is a ringing noise, you have likely had a injury to your ear and you should seek consultation with an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist (otolaryngologist, ENT). You should wear hearing protection when around loud sounds for a long period of time. Examples of sounds to be avoided include firecrackers, drills, train horns and screeching and firearms. There are different types of hearing protection such as foam earplugs, earmuffs and custom hearing-protection devices.

Turn down the volume on your MP3 player.

This one is simple: The rule of thumb is that if you are wearing ear buds or headphones, no one else should able to hear the music.

Get a hearing aid if you need one.

If you have a hearing loss, a properly fitted hearing aid will improve your life. Modern hearing aids are small, discreet, high-tech computers, constantly being refined and developed to provide a more natural sound.

(Check out the Chris Botti PSA in the video below.)

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