Modern Hearing Aids Offer Users a New Lease on Life

Many who now rely on hearing aids today will have seen their lives totally transformed by these tiny yet thoroughly indispensable devices. For a hearing individual it is almost impossible to understand the difficulties of coping in a world in which all are so dependent upon the ability to detect and to interpret sounds. Today’s world is one in which, for instance, the number of mobile phones now outnumbers the population and tele-conferencing is fast replacing international travel for business purposes.

It has always been more difficult for those affected by loss of audition to meet the demands of the workplace and our increased dependence on technology has made it even more so. Conversely, however, that technology has also made possible the more advanced hearing aids which have enabled them to overcome those difficulties and to meet those same demands with a degree of ease that was never previously possible.

It was, and still is, these previous difficulties that are most often responsible for revealing the early signs of auditory impairment. Frequently an affected individual will be seen to ask others to repeat themselves or to speak more clearly. Perhaps when watching TV, he or she will be criticised for adjusting the volume to a level that is too loud for the comfort of the other viewers. This is the point at which, ideally, the said individual should take the hint and investigate the possible need for hearing aids.

For a variety of reasons, however, many of those who are affected will continue in denial until such time as the inevitable worsening of their impairment makes this no longer possible. Among the main reasons for their reluctance are self-consciousness about admitting and drawing attention to their condition and the belief that these amplification devices are inconvenient and not even particularly effective. There may well have been some justification for such concerns in the past. However, a train of technological advances, including solid-state digital electronics, has led to the development of a brand new breed of versatile, hi-tech hearing aids. Their much reduced size and greatly improved performance now mean that those earlier concerns are no longer valid today.

A simple audiological examination such as those carries out by the healthcare specialists at The Ear Institutes or the organisation’s satellite clinics located around South Africa will quickly determine the nature and extent of any auditory impairment. By measuring the volume required for a subject to discern sound at various frequencies in the range of human audibility, a graph known as an audiogram is produced and provides the information required for an audiologist to tune today’s advanced hearing aids so as to match exactly the pattern of impairment and so provide optimal compensation.

These powerful yet compact devices are hard to spot even when worn behind the ear and those that fit into the ear canal itself are essentially invisible, allaying all fears of embarrassment. Many now operate wirelessly, making cords obsolete and allowing greater freedom of movement. More significant, however, is that this wireless capability makes it possible for them to interface with other digital devices. It is now possible to interact directly with a mobile phone or iPod and to hear the TV without disturbing others thanks to modern hearing aids.

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