The average person, explains audiologist Dr. MaryAnn Pladdys, waits seven to 10 years before addressing hearing loss because wearing hearing aids makes them feel old. But, her patients are getting younger all the time.
Many baby boomers attended a lot of concerts, and others may be using headphones at a loud volume. Or, they might be using public transportation, and/or are surrounded by the noise of power tools and lawn equipment.
“We live in a very noisy world and a lot of people don't think to protect their hearing by wearing earplugs,” she says.
While hearing loss can be frustrating, it can also lead to other problems such as a higher risk of dementia, depression, and anxiety. So, it’s important to visit an audiologist by age 40 to get a baseline hearing test, which only takes about 20 minutes.
With today’s technology, hearing aids are much smaller and it’s hard to tell when others are wearing them. “The most popular hearing aids are those with the receiver in the ear canal with a small device behind the ear,” says Dr. Pladdys. “When it's fit properly, it blends in and is really very discreet.”
Plus, the sound quality is so much better than in years past, and many are rechargeable. Most hearing aids are also compatible with iPhones and many are compatible with Android phones, so they can be controlled by an app.
While hearing aids can now be bought over the counter and online, audiologists program hearing aids to your specific needs, which is crucial. “Also, over the counter hearing aids don't address background noise as effectively as a prescription hearing aid, plus the quality is not as good.”
Dr. Pladdys, with a practice in Livingston, has been assisting patients with their hearing issues for almost 34 years, and she thoroughly enjoys what she does. “A patient comes in with a problem, we do a test, and then we fix that problem,” she says.
“To change somebody's life by giving them hearing again is so rewarding.”