Hearing Loss Going Into Your Golden Years

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BY LUIS GRONDA
Staff Writer

As people go into their golden years, loss of hearing is one of many problems that can develop.

According to the Hearing Loss Association of America, a national organization that provides assistance and resources for people that lose their hearing, about 20 percent of adults in the United States have reported a varying degree of hearing loss. At the age of 65 and older, one out of three people have hearing loss.

Dr. Avia Kagan, owner of the Jackson Heights-based Hearing Technologies and a practicing audiologist, said the loss of hearing occurs either naturally through old age or due to various ailments or diseases that affect hearing, including what they call conductive hearing loss.

Kagan said that conductive hearing loss happens when the muscles inside the ear do not work properly. According to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, there are a number of causes of this type of hearing loss, including an ear infection, allergies or even a benign tumor.

That type of ailment can often be corrected through medicine or surgery, Kagan said. But at Hearing Technologies, they mostly work with fitting their patients with hearing aids.

Kagan said a hearing aid, besides obviously improving a person’s hearing, can restore balance for a person, as hearing loss can make somebody unbalanced. That would force somebody to use a walker to help them travel on their feet, she said.

Another type of hearing loss is called tinnitus, which is constant ringing in the ears. Kagan said that it occurs due to long time exposure to loud noises, such as music concerts or construction sites. Kagan said the ringing can sometimes be an indicator of future hearing loss and there is no known cure for tinnitus.

She said wearing a hearing aid serves as a tinnitus masker and helps someone deal with the ailment.

When her company is prescribing hearing aids to its patients, it does get pushback from people all the time, Kagan said. The cosmetics of a hearing aid can be a problem for people, as well as the pricing. She said they try to work with everybody’s budget and needs to fit them with the hearing aid of their choice.

Hearing aids have also advanced immensely over the years, she said. Reminiscing on how the device has evolved, she said hearing aids were not digital at all when they were first invented and now you can hook up your hearing aid to your iPhone or iPad.

“It’s like a very sophisticated computer on your ear,” Kagan said. “Hearing aids went from something big to something very sleek.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, there are several different types of hearing aids, including one that goes completely in your ear canal and a half-shell, which is molded to fit the outer shell of your ear.

Kagan said many people do not know that you can pay for a hearing aid through your insurance company and she encourages any potential patients to do research with their company before scheduling an appointment with them.

Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, lgronda@queenstribune.com, or @luisgronda.