Q: I'm turning 60 next week and maybe all those rock 'n' roll concerts I went to are finally taking their toll on my hearing. I think I need a hearing aid, but I don't want to look like my grandmother. Any advice?
ADELE, C., BOULDER, COLO.
A: Oh, yes. For you -and all the rock 'n' rollers in their 60s and 70s - the answer to "Tommy, can you hear me?" finally might be yes, because of the amazing breakthroughs audiologists are making these days.
For those of us old enough to have experienced the British Invasion, hearing troubles are likely a combination of age and the ear-damaging decibels that came through Marshall amplifiers, those early Walkmans or cranking the volume on today's MP3 players past 60 percent. Almost 10 million folks ages 45 to 65 report problems with their hearing, but we believe there's a lot more out there.
Fortunately, hearing aids now come in loud and clear with five digital types: behind the ear; on the ear (smaller); in the ear; in the ear canal (barely visible); and completely in the ear canal (invisible). They work off programmable computer chips that can differentiate between speech and background noise, and can filter out the background. And they don't look anything like your grandma's earpiece.
So, get thee to a specialist. You'll go through a series of hearing tests and evaluations to find which type of aid will work best and which you can most easily adjust to. Be patient and persistent. Take various models for a test drive. The process of choosing the right hearing aid may take some time. But the rewards of being able to comfortably participate in the noisy world around you more than make up for the hassles you may have in getting used to the device.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.