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WHO CARES: Chronic Illness in America
WHO CARES: Chronic Illness in America

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Hearing Impairment

Description: Hearing loss can be caused by factors ranging from ear wax and loud noise exposure (common) to brain tumors and aging. Children who are having school problems should be screened for hearing loss. The gradual loss of hearing that occurs with aging (presbycusis) is common. Over time, the wear and tear of noise contributes to hearing loss by damaging the cochlea, a part of the inner ear. Doctors believe that heredity and chronic exposure to loud noises contribute to hearing loss.

Symptoms: Muffled quality of speech and other sounds; difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd of people; asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly; the need to turn up the volume of the television or radio; withdrawal from conversations; avoidance of some social settings.

Number of Americans diagnosed: One out of ten people in the United States has hearing loss. An estimated one-third of Americans older than age 65 and one-half of those older than age 75 have a hearing impairment.

Long-term problems/treatments: If hearing loss is due to damage to the inner ear, the only treatment is a hearing aid. If hearing is hindered by wax blockage, a doctor can remove the wax and improve hearing.
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Resources

What Hearing Impairment Is

Deafness Research Foundation

Deafness and Family Communication Center

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

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