The First Step Is Admitting There’s A Problem 2

“Patients still complain, When I go to a party or when I go to a restaurant I hear everybody else in the room and I can’t hear the people across from me,” she said.

While there’s no perfect hearing aid on the market, she said the digital hearing aids have gotten a lot better in the past five years.

She said they’re a long way from the early hearing aids, those dating to the 1950s, which resembled today’s Walkman. However, those are still used for certain patients.

Battat explained that the newer digital hearing aids allow audiologists to better customize the devices to each patient.

Ogunlusi tests patients before fitting them for hearing aids using a 10-minute diagnostic exam that is essentially a series of beeps.

Patients must either push a button or raise a hand to indicate they’ve heard sound.

It’s a test more and more people will have to take as they age.

SHHH’s statistics show that by age 65, one out of every three people has a hearing loss. The group says hearing loss ranks with arthritis, high blood pressure, and heart disease as one of the most common physical problems.

Jack Mulligan, 83, of Teaneck, heads a SHHH chapter that meets at Holy Name Hospital in Teaneck to help people get used to hearing aids, among other things.

“They’re in a strange world,” said Mulligan. “They’re hearing noises they never heard before. They need orientation.”

He said Clinton should talk more about his disability.

“I wish that he would promote it a little more,” he said. “People see the president wears one, they feel it’s not quite so bad.”

Echoing Battat, Mulligan said denial is a big problem in the hard- of-hearing community. He sees it at his church. He said assisted- listening devices often go unused by congregants at Sunday services.

“They won’t ask for it. They will sit there and smile,” he said.

“We know they’re not hearing everything. It’s an uphill battle.”

Why are people losing their hearing?

One of the most common causes is prolonged exposure to high- intensity noise, which can cause permanent damage to the inner ear.

No medical or surgical treatment can correct a hearing loss resulting from noise exposure.

“People are starting to lose their hearing in their 50s,” Battat said. “Before, it was more like in their 60s. People are having hearing loss earlier as a result of the normal daily life that we have.

We’re exposed to a lot of noise. We fly a lot. We use Walkmen. We go to rock concerts. Over a while, this starts to erode your hearing.” There are other causes that include changes in the structure of the ear because of aging and medical conditions such as diabetes.

Dugan believes getting banged up in a 1992 car accident caused her problems.

She admitted she initially was reluctant to get fitted for hearing aids by Ogunlusi, who is her audiologist and works at Northern Jersey Ear, Nose & Throat Associates in Teaneck.

“I thought they were these great big things that fill your ear,” Dugan said.

But she added that life with hearing aids isn’t bad.

“I forget they’re in there,” said Dugan, who has worn them since July. “Sometimes I go to bed with them … It’s like a miracle, you can hear things again.”

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