April 3, 2011

What is new in the world of hearing devices?

Parker,-Molly-NEWBy Dr. Molly Parker
Parker Audiology, PC
(Don White Hearing Aid Center)

According to Better Hearing Institute (www.betterhearing.org) 60 percent of those with hearing loss are below the age of 64. Hearing loss is not just an “aging” problem. Hearing loss occurs gradually and painlessly. Often hearing loss is not noticed until family members begin nagging you. They usually have your best interests in mind, so it can be good to use them as a guidepost to your hearing ability. Typically, I see hearing loss progression over three to five year time blocks. However, this is not true for everyone, and there is a percentage of people that have more rapid worsening of hearing. If you think you have hearing loss, get a base line hearing test. Obtaining a medical referral is helpful for insurance purposes. Keep your hearing tests with your medical files and have your tests sent to your primary care physician (PCP).

This is an exciting time in the hearing industry. Hearing aids are evolving about every 6-12 months, significantly faster than the 18-24 months we saw about 5-10 years ago. Hearing instruments are becoming smaller and more powerful. This year the trend is for more connectivity and more control in background noise. If you have not looked into hearing aids during the past two years, it would be worthwhile to get a demonstration. Here is a listing of some of the latest new features.

American-made, Starkey Laboratories offer the ability for you to step into a room and hear the television (or any sound system) through your hearing aids. Set up takes about two minutes and is very easy. Once set up, there are no buttons to press and nothing to turn on. You simply step into the room, and the hearing instruments will find the TV and pick it up. Starkey offers stereo quality through their hearing instruments. In the next year or so, Starkey anticipates releasing an upgrade where the hearing device becomes its own “Bluetooth” ear piece. When the call is done, your hearing aids go back to working as hearing aids. This development will only be compatible with the Wi RIC series, which is available now. Check out their research at www.starkeypro.com.

Oticon, headquartered in Denmark, is internationally known for their thorough research, durability and terrific sound quality for their hearing instruments. Oticon’s hearing aids offer binaural spacial processing to help you locate sounds. The hearing instruments talk to each other and make adjustments in real-time to track speech and minimize extraneous noise. They offer a lot of power, reduce feedback and are appropriate for most hearing losses. Oticon’s devices are very small and free models are available to try out on your ear. The number one comment from Oticon users is “it just sounds natural.” Oticon has recently released a new line of hearing instruments, the Ino (pronounced “I Know”-www.oticonusa.com). Oticon Hearing Instruments Free Consultations will be April 12, 13 and 14. *Limited Space. Call for your reservation today (563) 326-5441.

Dr. Molly Parker is an audiologist with Parker Audiology, PC, 1640 W. Locust Street, Davenport, Iowa. She can be reached at (563) 326-5441 or mparker@donwhitehearing.com.