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Causes & care of hearing loss in Seniors:

Hearing loss comes in many forms. It can range from a mild loss in which a person misses certain high-pitched sounds, such as the voices of women and children, to a total loss of hearing. It can be hereditary or it can result from disease, trauma, certain medications or long-term exposure to loud noise.

Some people may have a hearing problem without realizing it. Others might think they have a problem, but are too embarrassed to tell their doctor, friends, or family. You can help identify a possible hearing problem by asking yourself some key questions and, if necessary, having your hearing checked by a doctor.

If a hearing loss is ignored or untreated, it can get worse. But a hearing loss that is identified early can be helped through treatment, such as hearing aids, certain medicines, and surgery.

Ask yourself the following questions. If you answer “yes” to three or more of these questions, you could have a hearing problem.

• Do I have a problem hearing on the telephone? • Do I have trouble with noise in the background? • Is it hard for me to follow a conversation when two or more people talk at once? • Do I often ask people to repeat themselves? • Do people complain that the TV volume is too high? • Do I hear a ringing, roaring, or hissing sound a lot?

Woman undergoing a hearing test

If you think that you have a hearing problem, schedule an appointment with your family doctor. In some cases, he or she can identify the problem and prescribe treatment.

Your doctor may refer you to an otolaryngologist. This doctor and surgeon has special training in problems of the ear, nose, throat, head, and neck.

An otolaryngologist will try to find out why you have a hearing loss and offer treatment options. He or she will ask you for your medical history, ask if other family members have hearing problems, do a thorough exam, and prescribe any needed tests.

Your doctor may also recommend that you visit an audiologist. An audiologist is a health professional who can identify and measure hearing loss. The audiologist will use a device called an audiometer to test your ability to hear sounds of different pitch and loudness.

The tests that an audiologist performs are painless. Audiologists do not prescribe drugs or perform surgery. If you need a hearing aid, an audiologist can help you choose the right one.

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