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Hearing loss, a disability currently untreated in about 85 percent of those affected, may be the nation’s most damaging and costly sensory handicap. Most of those affected can still hear sounds and think the real problem is that people aren’t speaking clearly.
As hearing worsens, they are likely to become increasingly frustrated and socially isolated. Social isolation, in turn, has been linked to depression and an increased risk of death from conditions like heart disease.
Perhaps it will also grab the attention of politicians who determine what is and what is not covered by Medicare and, in turn, by other health insurers. Furthermore, for the fewer than 15 percent of hearing-impaired people who have hearing aids, the devices themselves are not an adequate solution. Although hearing impairment was first linked in major medical journals to dementia and cognitive dysfunction more than two decades ago, not until last year did researchers demonstrate an independent association with dementia over time.
For each 10-decibel loss in hearing, the risk of dementia rose about 20 percent among the participants. The relationship between hearing loss and dementia persisted even when other factors linked to cognitive disease, like hypertension, diabetes and smoking, were taken into account.
Thus, the overworked brain may lose “cognitive reserve,” the ability of healthy parts of the brain to take over functions lost by other parts. Rose Marie Jewett, 83, ofJanesville,Wis., who had experienced progressively worsening hearing loss for 40 years, had all but given up hope of hearing others speak or ever again enjoying music. She said she could understand how hearing loss could lead to dementia, because she was “forgetful” when she did not hear what she should have heard. It’s not that she forgot things; rather, she had never heard them to begin with, and the strain of constantly trying to piece things together was taking its toll. A hearing loop, installed around the periphery of a room, is a thin copper wire that radiates electromagnetic signals. Even if a child has passed a hearing screening before, it is important to look out for the following signs. Children should have their hearing tested before they enter school or any time there is a concern about the childa€™s hearing.
A genetic cause: About 1 out of 2 cases of hearing loss in babies is due to genetic causes. 1 out of 4 cases of hearing loss in babies is due to maternal infections during pregnancy, complications after birth, and head trauma. If you think that your child might have hearing loss, ask the childa€™s doctor for a hearing screening as soon as possible.

If your child does not pass a hearing screening, ask the childa€™s doctor for a full hearing test as soon as possible.
If your child has hearing loss, talk to the childa€™s doctor about treatment and intervention services. Hearing loss can affect a childa€™s ability to develop speech, language, and social skills. Profound Hearing Loss A person with a profound hearing loss will not hear any speech and only very loud sounds. The graphic points out that the four main ways people lose their ears are through listening to loud music, spending too much time in an industrial work place with power drills and the like, being exposed to the sounds of a racetrack, and being exposed to the sounds of guns firing for long periods of time.
Unable to hear well in social settings, they gradually stop going to the theater, movies, places of worship, senior centers or parties or out to restaurants with friends or family. And now there is another major risk associated with hearing problems: dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Currently, Medicare does not pay for hearing aids, and many older people cannot afford the many thousands of dollars that quality aids and auditory training can cost. Hearing aids work best when the distance between the sound and the listener is less than six feet and when background noise is minimal, which can preclude clear communication in theaters, airports, restaurants and many other social settings. Compared with those who could hear normally when first examined, the risk of dementia doubled among those with mild hearing loss, tripled among those with moderate hearing loss and increased fivefold among those with severe hearing loss.
The signals can be picked up by a tiny receiver called a telecoil that is built into most hearing aids and cochlear implants.
Remensnyder said, hearing loops have been installed in about 1,000 public places, including museums, stores, banks, theaters, airports, sports arenas and other spaces that are challenging for the hearing-impaired.
This includes the outer ear, middle ear, inner ear, hearing (acoustic) nerve, and auditory system. This sometimes is mistaken for not paying attention or just ignoring, but could be the result of a partial or complete hearing loss. A delay in any of these milestones could be a sign of hearing loss or other developmental problem.
Children who do not pass the hearing screening need to get a full hearing test as soon as possible. Good treatment plans will include close monitoring, follow-ups and any changes needed along the way.
Some babies with a genetic cause for their hearing loss might have family members who also have a hearing loss.
Visit the National Institutes of Healtha€™s website to learn more about preventing noise-induced hearing loss.

The earlier children with hearing loss start getting services, the more likely they are to reach their full potential. This finding alone should prompt more people to get their hearing tested and, if found impaired, get properly fitted with aids that can help to keep them cognitively engaged.
Lin, an otolaryngologist at Johns Hopkins Medicine, and his colleagues there and at the National Institute on Aging showed a direct relationship between the participants’ degree of hearing loss and their risk of later developing dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
With the press of a tiny button on the aid, sound comes through to people with impaired hearing with even greater clarity than can be heard by someone with normal hearing.
Remensnyder can yet say whether improving auditory signals for the hearing-impaired will diminish or delay the development of dementia.
Visit our web page to see milestones that children should reach from 2 months to 5 years of age.
If a baby does not pass a hearing screening, it's very important to get a full hearing test as soon as possible, but no later than 3 months of age.
There are many different types of communication options for children with hearing loss and for their families. About 1 out of 3 babies with genetic hearing loss have a a€?syndrome.a€? This means they have other conditions in addition to the hearing loss, such as Down syndrome or Usher syndrome. If you are a parent and you suspect your child has hearing loss, trust your instincts and speak with your childa€™s doctor. Isolation has been linked to an increase in inflammation throughout the body, which in turn can result in age-related disorders like heart disease and dementia, Dr.
Remensnyder, an audiologist and founder of Hearing Associates inIllinois, taught her how to maximize her ability to hear clearly in social settings. We have 15,000 hair cells, but they can deteriorate rapidly if people consistently place themselves in situations where hazardous noise is present. Over 50 million Americans suffer from a disease called Tinnitus, which is a non-stop ringing in the ears that results from prolonged exposure to loud sounds.The right bar of the graphic discusses how to protect your ears.
Jewett with the right kind of hearing aids and with devices that allow her to hear clearly on the telephone, when watching television and in public settings that have been equipped with hearing loops. Remensnyder said, it can “revolutionize” the lives of people with hearing difficulties, a virtue in itself.

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