According to a 2011 report from Johns Hopkins Medicine, one in five Americans suffers from some form of hearing loss. The prevalence of this issue is staggering and has created a demand for advancements in hearing aid technology. However, even though hearing loss is increasingly common, 75% of people who could benefit from a hearing aid are not using one. It can be assumed that a large part of this is lack of understanding as to the current nature of hearing aid technology.
Older people suffering from hearing loss might be hesitant to wear a hearing aid, since they can recall the days when hearing aids were large and ungainly. They could also be finicky and difficult to use. Digital models of the hearing aid didn’t hit the market until the mid-90’s. Before then, models using transistors or amplifiers and battery units clipped to the ear were the norm. They could also squeak and deliver feedback whenever the user touched their hair or face. They were bulky and hardly discreet, in other words. They also needed tiny, expensive batteries which seemed in constant need of replacement.
Technology has come very far and very fast in the past two decades. Today’s hearing aids are smaller, more discreet and in some cases, capable of doing more than just helping the hearing impaired communicate with the world. They no longer squeak, and can even feature rechargeable batteries.
There are also different types of hearing aids. Advanced practices offer patients the latest in hearing technology such as receiver-in-canal, completely-in-canal, behind-the-ear, in-the-canal and in-the-ear. Each type is specifically designed with a level of hearing loss in mind and it’s up to the user and their hearing specialist to determine which is best.
In some cases, some hearing centers offer hearing aids that are waterproof, some which are 100% invisible and can be personalized to capture exactly the sounds and pitches the user has difficulty hearing unassisted. Really advanced hearing aid options come with a remote app and allows for the streaming of sound from an MP3 player, the use of a phone for taking and making calls, and even the adjustment of TV or stereo volume.
Other forms of hearing aids are designed to not only offer assistance to those with impaired hearing, but also help musicians to better hear their own music while eliminating other noises. This noise reduction technology is common in many hearing aid brands in the entertainment market.
In this day and age, there’s no reason for the stigma associated with hearing aid usage to negatively influence people with hearing loss. Technology has made it possible for the hearing impaired to remain connected to friends, loved ones and the world around them much more easily and with far fewer complications than ever before.
Photo credit: Audiophilia