The Prevalence Of Hearing Loss

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Hearing loss is prevalent, treatable and frequently undetected (Uhlmann, 1989). It is widely accepted that the prevalence of hearing impairment increases with age. This age related hearing loss is known as presbycusis. Acar, Yurekli, Babademez, Karabulut and Karasen (2011) described presbycusis as a social problem in which people deliberately restrict physical and social activities. There is a prediction for an increasing prevalence of hearing loss due to the greater aging population, the use of personal listening devices, and increased military action.

Aging Auditory System and Speech Understanding
Aging is the single factor that is most responsible for irreversible hearing loss due to weakening of the tympanic membrane, disordered
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Yet, the understanding of distorted speech declines rapidly and dramatically with aging and hearing ability (Divenyi et al., 2005). Even with a favorable speech-to-noise ratio, like in a sound treated suite, a mild high frequency hearing loss can affect speech understanding (Lunner, Rudner, & Rönnberg, 2009). Reverberation and signal processing in noise are the greatest obstacles to understanding speech (Gordon-Salant, 2005). Reverberation has a smoothing effect on the sound waveform which causes distortion of the signal (Gordon-Salant, 2005). This phenomenon occurs in large, open rooms which is why many adults complain about understanding speech in noisy restaurants. Elderly, hearing-impaired listeners indicate that they have the most difficulty understanding continuous input in the presence of noise as opposed to difficulty understanding just single words and phrases in the presence of noise (Pichora-Fuller, 2003).When the peripheral auditory system is already damaged from typical auditory aging processes, adding more distortion to the signal decreases the listener’s ability to understand. These deficits indicate a slowing of perceptual processes. The question remains, how quickly do these components decline, at what rate and to what degree does speech understanding diminish (Divenyi et al., 2005)?

Audiological Evaluation
In order to determine the
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