Music To The Ears: New Advances In Hearing Technology
Research and Innovations One in four Canadians under the age of 65 have hearing loss significant enough to necessitate treatment.
For Canadians over 65 years of age, one in two suffer from hearing loss. That’s why health officials are sounding the alarm over what is often called a silent health issue. “Many people don’t recognize they have hearing loss, says Dr. Marshall Chasin, a Toronto clinical audiologist. “It’s slow progressing and isn’t associated with pain.”
Because childhood is a critical time for language development, experts suggest parents have their children’s hearing tested if the child has ongoing ear infections or if a hearing impairment is suspected. “At the age of 35, people should get a hearing checkup, because research shows a link between hearing loss and decline in brain function,” says Dr. Chasin.
World of sounds open up with new options
If hearing impairment can’t be medically treated — excess ear wax or infection — then a wide-range of hearing assistance devices are available. These aren’t the clunky hearing aids your grandpa used to have. Many are very small and look nice cosmetically. They are technologically advanced, with some even being able to be controlled by your smartphone.
Once you have hearing loss it is permanent, that’s why its prevention is important. Equally important is seeking help if you do suspect you have a hearing impairment.
Depending on the cause of your hearing loss, a hearing aid on its own may not be the best solution. In some cases a cochlear implant or bone anchored system can restore hearing for those that have severe to profound deafness. The bone anchored system is good for people who have problems with the middle ear or ear drum and cannot be helped with a conventional hearing aid — because these issues are chronic or they have no ear/earcanal at all. It transmits the sound through an implant in the skull above the ear, and reaches the inner ear. “The technology for this system has advanced significantly in recent years,” says Richard Larocque, a Clinical Support and Business Development Manager for Oticon Medical, a member of one of the world’s largest groups of hearing health care companies. “It uses a minimally invasive surgical technique that takes just 10 minutes and can be done as an outpatient.”
Once you have hearing loss it is permanent, that’s why its prevention is important. Equally important is seeking help if you do suspect you have a hearing impairment. “Hearing loss can impact your work and social life,” says Larocque. “Restoring one’s hearing gives people their life back.”