Hearing Aid Advancements - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

"MedTeam": 5/2/03

Hearing Aid Advancements

Eighty-five percent of adults with hearing loss require a hearing aid or another device to correct their lack of hearing. The most common complaints from hearing aid users are the inability to hear well in noisy environments and an inability to use the phone. Now improvements in hearing aid technology are here.

Just hearing the tones during telephone dialing proved to Sue Deriso how serious her hearing problem was. She tells Ivanhoe, "It's like, wow. I didn't realize what I was missing because I can now hear, and I realized I were hearing less and less and less."

Years ago, Deriso tried hearing aids to correct her 30-percent loss. She had too many complaints and gave them up. Now, she's lost 50 percent to 60 percent of her hearing, and she's trying them again.

Audiologist Catherine Palmer, Ph.D., says new hearing aid technologies addresses patient complaints. One example is the addition of directional microphones to the usual omnidirectional microphones.

"It is directional in the sense that it blocks out what's behind and to the sides. If all that noise is in front of you, it's not going to block it out," Palmer, of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, tells Ivanhoe.

Another new technology, called Touchless Telecoil, addresses phone complaints.

Hearing Aid AdvancePalmer says, "Traditionally, what happens is if you just have a hearing aid set on microphone, if you put anything up near it, a phone or anything else, it's going to squeal."

But now with Touchless Telecoil, hearing aids adjust automatically.

Deriso says, "As soon as you pick up the telephone, it adjusts because it signals to the phone that they're dealing with a hearing aid, so the whistling will stop."

Deriso no longer removes her hearing aids while on the phone, and she's enjoying simple sounds now, like her own footsteps.

The phone device doesn't work with all cell phones. That will be one of the next hurdles to overcome. Palmer says, despite all the advances, one of the barriers still continues to be cost. Hearing aids cost thousands of dollars and very few insurance plans offer any type of coverage.

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