Even though technology rules our everyday lives and has helped us discover ground-breaking innovations health wise, still only a small percentage of the world’s population leads a healthy life. We are being daily bombarded with the benefits of eating healthy and being active, yet the number of serious diseases has doubled in the last decade. With all the emphasis being put on the importance of health and global community trying to raise awareness with the public of rare illness, very few concerns are focused on what seems to be the rising problem of the modern world – hearing loss.
Hearing loss is partially or totally losing the ability to hear and it can occur in one or both ears. Nearly 20% of all Australians have some type of hearing loss, and recent statistics show that the problem is more serious than it seems since noise is all around us. Let’s be realistic, today’s world is way louder than in the era of Sir Robert Menzies. From television, lawn mowers, setting speakers to their maximum and vehicles to work-related loud sounds (machines and machinery used in factories, manufacturing and mining industry), a lot of people are constantly exposed to dangerous noise levels of 85 decibels and over. This can cause permanent hearing loss. Doctors recommended maintaining the exposure to noise levels of below 75 decibels. They also recommend regular hearing assessment.
Acknowledging hearing loss and wearing a hearing aid can significantly improve sensorineura hearing loss (SNHL). Thanks to innovative technology implemented in almost every available hearing aid in Australia the loss of hearing is no longer a taboo. Regardless of the brand or model (or your lifestyle and hearing needs for that matter), telecoils, bluetooth technology, directional microphones and rechargeable batteries are just some of the features almost every hearing aid in Australia comes with. Plus, they are comfortable to wear and feature a discreet design. But hearing aids were not always as sophisticated as they are today.
The first hearing aid, known as the ear trumpet, was developed in the 19th century. It was in the shape of a funnel and it captured sound waves which were amplified and delivered to the outer ear canal. Later, the invention of the telephone helped revolutionise hearing aids.
In 1913, Siemens developed the first electronic amplified hearing aid. It was huge and users could feel the weight, which was not comfortable at all. With the invention of the vacuum tube, the transistor and the multi-channel compressor, two decades after the WWII, Daniel Graupe developed a six-channel hearing aid laying down the building blocks of modern hearing aids. In 1987, the first digital hearing aid was created. Since, there were constant developments and today there are three main types widely used: digital, wireless, invisible.
Digital hearing aids
These devices are smart enough to determine which sound or speech will be transferred to the ear receptor, differentiating the real sounds from the noise. One of the best features is their adaptability to reduce the noise source and enhance the speech so the user can understand them better.
Wireless hearing aids
These aids enable users to link the receiver and transmitter and communicate with each other without a problem. They have the capability to work together and interrupt incoming sounds and provide better signals for the hearer and wearer. In addition, wireless hearing aids have the functionality to be paired with Bluetooth streaming accessories (usually phones, TV, radio and a lot of other devices) and are the most modern hearing aids at the moment.
Invisible hearing aids
This is the most popular form of a hearing aid in Australia. They are tiny and custom made to the shape of user’s ear canal. Because of its small size, an invisible hearing aid can be inserted deep inside patient’s ear canal where no one can notice it.
Technology will continue to evolve; new and better devices will be introduced on the market, but until then, these devices are your best option to your hearing loss problem.