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Baby Boomers Listen Up

Ear Today, Gone Tomorrow

What Can Be Done?

Even if there is already hearing loss, protecting the ears can minimize further injury. Earplugs, sold in most drugstores, should be worn when people are around loud power tools or attending loud concerts. Larger earphone-like devices can help for especially loud tools, like leaf blowers, Battey says.


When hearing loss is already severe, a hearing aid may be required.


One option is the new disposable hearing aid marketed by Songbird Medical. The device lasts about 40 days, says company President and CEO Frederick Fritz. And because the battery is built-in and discarded with the device, the hearing aid doesn't have a battery door, standard on other hearing aids. That allows room for a bigger microphone, which improves sound quality, according to Fritz.


Like the disposable model, many other hearing aids now fit completely in the ear canal, and are nearly invisible to other people. And that, designers and ear specialists hope, may convince hard-of-hearing boomers to do something about their problem -- without broadcasting their accumulation of birthdays.


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