We are all familiar with the alarming rise of Type 2 Diabetes facing today’s generation. But there is another health concern that is facing baby boomers that is not as heard about as much in the media … and that is hearing loss.

An estimated 28 million Americans suffer hearing loss. As baby boomers reach retirement age, that number is expected to nearly double by 2030. Currently, only one out of five persons who would benefit from wearing a hearing aid actually uses one.

Constant exposure to loud noise, or exposure to sudden, loud noises such as explosions or fire crackers, is known to create what is called noise induced hearing loss, which can be a permanent condition. The hair cells, nerve endings and inner ear structure can be damaged. Not only is hearing loss a potential risk from loud noise, but tinnitus can also occur. Tinnitus creates an irritating ringing, buzzing, or roaring sound in the ears or head.

Specialists are discovering that people in their 40s and 50s are showing symptoms of hearing loss that used to be attributed to people in their 60s and 70s. The culture of loud music is obviously a factor, but environmental and industrial factors are also taking their toll.

Police, medical specialists and fire fighters who constantly hear loud sirens are experiencing hearing problems. Construction and industrial workers who are exposed to the sounds of jackhammers, lawnmowers and machine noise exhibit hearing loss. Child care providers and pediatricians who hear loud screaming, crying and shouting from children on a regular basis are also at risk of a loss of hearing. Interestingly, even truck drivers eventually experience hearing loss in their left ear, the ear that faces traffic. While earplugs can help reduce risk of hear loss, the more immediate risk is that a worker wearing earplugs will not be able to hear what he or she needs to hear, such as alarms, verbal suggestions or warnings.

Unlike smoking or over eating which, when stopped, can reduce and reverse health risks, hearing loss is often permanent. According to Congressional testimony presented about Medicare benefits for hearing aids and devices, recognizing and treating hearing loss can mean the difference between dependence and independence. Children with hearing loss may lack the speech and language development skills necessary for their ability to interact with society. Seniors may find it difficult to talk with friends or family, listen to the television or radio, or hear an alarm.

Fortunately, there have been advances in hearing aids and medicine. The new digital hearing aids provide a much sharper, clearer sound than their analog predecessors. The top of the line hearing aids can cost up to $3,500. Lower end devices may cost a couple of hundred dollars.

Prevention is the best policy when it comes to hearing disabilities. If at all possible, reduce your exposure to constant noise. The iPod generation of today should turn down the volume a bit to listen to these warnings.

For more information about hearing loss and hearing aids, visit http://www.hearing-aide-directory.com The author of this article, Urbain C. Beck, is a freelance writer who contributes articles for a number of different websites, including the hearing aid directory.