DENVER – Do you find yourself turning up the television and asking people to repeat themselves? You’re not alone. A new study shows half of all baby boomers ages 38 to 60 have hearing loss.
For millions of baby boomers, the sound of water has slowly slipped away.
“Over the course of the years, it’s just deteriorated,” said Gary Zoetewey.
It took years for Zoetewey to realize he had a hearing problem but his wife noticed.
“I would be constantly be repeating and getting louder and louder in what I said to him and a little more annoyed,” said Gary’s wife, Val Zoetewey.
“You get used to it. You do certain things to compensate for not hearing,” Gary Zoetewey said.
New research shows 38 million people between the ages of 40 and 59 are experiencing hearing loss. Thirty-seven percent have mild hearing loss, 11 percent have moderate hearing loss and 2 percent of those baby boomers have severe hearing loss, according to the Clarity and The Ear Foundation.
And it’s not just men who experience hearing loss.
“I really can’t hear anything without my hearing aids,” said Kriss King.
King has had hearing loss most of her life but it wasn’t until college when she started wearing hearing aids.
“We are seeing it more because people are less attuned to the noise that they are around,” said Dr. Barbara Jenkins, with Advanced Audiology, Inc.
The No. 1 cause of hearing loss in the United States is noise. Jenkins said anything louder than a hair dryer will cause permanent hearing damage. Just sitting in everyday traffic creates 85 decibels, she said. A lawnmower is 90 decibels – so you don’t want to listen to that for more than eight hours.
And 15 minutes is all the time it takes for permanent hearing loss at a rock concert, she said. It’s normally at 120 decibels.
“Hearing loss is similar to sun and skin damage. It accumulates over time,” Jenkins said.
Hearing loss is 100 percent preventable, so turn down the noise, doctors say. And if you are like King and Zoetewey it’s important to have your hearing checked.
“Communication is so key to our whole world. It’s really important to make sure that every tool you have for communicating is as sharp as it can be,” King said.
One way to do that is by getting a hearing aid. There are lots of options available.
“It’s a new awakening, a great discovery. I’m going, ‘I wish I would have done this earlier,’” Zoetewey said after he received his hearing aid.
If you want to see where other noises rank on the decibel chart, or the latest advances in hearing aid go to HearingInColorado.com and click on Hearing Info.
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