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Clinical Crossroads | Clinician's Corner

A 73-Year-Old Man With Hearing Loss

Robert K. Jackler, MD, Discussant
JAMA. 2003;289(12):1557-1565. doi:10.1001/jama.289.12.1589.
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DR SHIP: Mr H is a 73-year-old man who has had hearing loss for 8 years. He immigrated to the United States from Taiwan about 40 years ago. He lives in a suburb of Boston with his wife and is retired from work in scientific research. He has Medicare and supplemental preferred provider organization insurance.

In 1994, Mr H noticed that he was having difficulty hearing at laboratory seminars and at home. He found it difficult to distinguish consonants, especially d from t and p from b. Unless the topic of discussion was familiar, he had difficulty understanding it. He sought care from his primary care physician, who referred him to an audiologist. Audiometry results confirmed hearing loss sufficient to benefit from a hearing aid, so he began to wear these in both ears. Every 2 to 3 years, each subsequent audiology examination has showed worsened hearing loss. In 1997, Mr H purchased a new set of hearing aids with a more sophisticated amplifier. His most recent set of hearing aids is digital with a dual control for frequency and volume, which he states improves the quality of sound.

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Figure. Audiograms of Varying Levels of Hearing Ability
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