An estimated 28 million Americans have hearing loss. According to the National Institutes of Health, one third of 65-75 year-old Americans have hearing loss, and one half of those 75 and older do. This makes hearing loss the third most frequently reported chronic medical condition in America.
For adults, the tiny hair cells of the inner ear in the cochlea are the structures frequently damaged. Cochlear hair cells can be damaged by loud noise or chemicals toxic to the ear including some chemotherapy treatments. Some sensorineural hearing loss is congenital (present from birth), but for most people a sensorineural hearing loss occurs gradually and is permanent. When cochlear hair cells become damaged, their ability to transform sound vibrations into electrical signals is diminished.
For those with hearing loss and their family members, the symptoms are frustrating and can cause long-term issues:
Blakely said about her grandmother's improved hearing aids, "I'm so happy that she can hear without saying 'huh' that I want to cry." Thank you Blakely for dutifully bringing your BFF.
Some level of decline in cognitive ability is inevitable as people get older. Forgetfulness is one of these. Difficulty in concentrating is another. But another, and more worrisome outcome, is hearing loss.
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