Stop shout­ing at grandpa. The smart hear­ing aid’s here

With life­spans get­ting longer, many more peo­ple have to cope with hear­ing loss. But thanks to high-tech hear­ing aids that are clearer, sleeker and cooler, the el­derly don’t have to suf­fer in si­lence

The Times of India (Mumbai edition) - - TIMES NATION -

Sho­bita Dhar & Durgesh Nandan Jha | New Delhi: Soon af­ter K Prasad turned 70, his fam­ily no­ticed that he wouldn’t re­spond when some­one called or that he missed large parts of con­ver­sa­tions. The doc­tor di­ag­nosed mild hear­ing loss and sug­gested an aid, but the de­vice turned out to be so clunky, noisy — “I’d rather not hear at all than have that whistling in my ear” — and hard to use, that it spent more time on the shelf than in his ear. And his fam­ily got used to shout­ing at him.

Last year though, a doc­tor found him a discreet de­vice that sits neatly in his ear, and he’s adapted to it well. New mod­els of hear­ing aids are noth­ing like the ana­logue equip­ment our grand­par­ents might have worn. They have su­pe­rior sound qual­ity and are of­ten as small as a fin­ger­nail. “Ear­lier, most hear­ing aids were large and vis­i­ble. The new ones fit in the in­ner canal and are al­most in­vis­i­ble,” says Dr J M Has, an ENT ex­pert in Delhi. This is why peo­ple are now less hes­i­tant about get­ting as­sis­tive de­vices, he adds.

As life­spans get longer, peo­ple have to deal with age-re­lated ail­ments such as hear­ing loss, which aren’t life-threat­en­ing but do cut into the qual­ity of life. But there is no need to suf­fer in si­lence. Dr Sha­l­abh Sharma of Sir Ganga Ram Hos­pi­tal in Delhi ex­plains that hear­ing aids work well for peo­ple with mild to mod­er­ate hear­ing loss. “For pro­found hear­ing loss, cochlear im­plants are needed,” he says.

In ad­di­tion to ad­vanced age (peo­ple gen­er­ally start hear­ing less by the time they turn 65), lis­ten­ing to loud mu­sic on ear­phones is an­other rea­son for the in­crease in in­ci­dence of hear­ing prob­lems.

Mumbai-based au­di­ol­o­gist De­vangi Dalal says dig­i­tal aids are bet­ter be­cause they can be cus­tomised to each user’s re­quire­ment. “These aids al­low peo­ple to hear soft speech louder and am­bi­ent sounds softer. Ef­fec­tive noise com­pres­sion is key to a good hear­ing aid,” she adds.

Dig­i­tal aids come with mo­bile apps that help users get a bet­ter lis­ten­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. You can talk on phone and watch your fa­vorite pro­grammes on TV by con­nect­ing your aids to it via an app. Even in a con­fer­ence, a hear­ing im­paired per­son sit­ting in the back row can hear clearly. Cer­tain aids come with a mic, which when worn by the speaker can am­plify sound with­out dis­turb­ing oth­ers.

The same tech­nol­ogy en­ables chil- ber and store dif­fer­ent set­tings of sounds in dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions, and au­to­mat­i­cally switch to that set­ting on sens­ing those frequencies.

For in­stance, ex­plains Par­i­tosh Arora, CEO, Widex In­dia, you go to a movie the­ater and change the sound set­ting on your mo­bile app. Once you’re out, the hear­ing aid senses that and au­to­mat­i­cally switches back to out­door set­ting. “In the next six months we are launch­ing bat­tery-free aids that will have por­ta­ble charg­ers. You charge them for 10 sec­onds and they are good to use for 24 hours,” says Arora adding that Widex sells six to seven lakh hear­ing aids in In­dia ev­ery year. Their prices start at Rs 15,500 and go up to Rs 3 lakh and more.

There are more in­no­va­tions on the cards. Devin­der Dad­wal, mar­ket­ing head GN Hear­ing In­dia Pvt Ltd, which sells hear­ing aids un­der the brand name Re­Sound, says the com­pany has re­cently in­tro­duced Re­Sound Linx Qu­at­tro, an aid which has a wider fre­quency range. “Users can hear sounds bet­ter and un­der­stand their source. For ex­am­ple, if you are out for a morn­ing run and there’s a truck honk­ing from be­hind, these aids will help you fig­ure out how far the truck is and the di­rec­tion of its sound. It also al­lows health care pro­fes­sion­als to re­motely ad­just or tune hear­ing aids us­ing a mo­bile app so that the user does not have to visit the clinic or hos­pi­tal,” says Dad­wal. He adds that Re­Sound sells about 50,000 aids each year in In­dia.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.