Invisible Hearing Aids
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Can you hear me now? More and more people can't! At least 30 million Americans are having trouble hearing. Now, a new type of hearing aid is making it easier for people to get help without everyone knowing it.
This is the first time Patrick Mulvey has jumped in a swimming pool in 10 years. He gave it up when his hearing started to go.
"I cranked the music up a little bit too loud, and I started feeling the effects of it," Mulvey told Ivanhoe.
Both ears suffered moderate hearing loss -- so much so, that without help, life is practically impossible to hear.
"It's difficult to understand people on the whole," Mulvey explained.
Now, the next generation of hearing aids can help Mulvey hear in and out of the water.
"That's the hearing aid," Robert Sweetow, Ph.D., director of audiology and professor of otolaryngology at UCSF, showed Ivanhoe.
This Lyric hearing aid is the first of its kind to be studied in swimmers. And it's virtually invisible.
"This is the only hearing aid that's immersed this deeply down the ear canal," Dr. Sweetow explained.
It sits one-sixth of an inch from the eardrum. The sound can be turned up and down with the use of a magnet outside the ear.
"It doesn't fall out because the ear canal goes in and curves, so there are two flanges on this device that grip the bone of the ear canal," Dr. Sweetow said.
The Lyric cannot help people with very small ear canals, bone protrusions or severe hearing loss. But for those with less or moderate loss, this gives them a new option.
Traditional hearing aids may have feedback, over amplify background noises, the batteries die frequently and have to be removed while showering or swimming.
Now, Mulvey is back in the pool and says he'll dive in more often.
"If I can do this, I'll probably end up doing it a couple a times a week," Mulvey said.
Patients pay an annual subscription fee of up to $3600 per pair and get an entirely new hearing aid when the battery dies. Dr. Sweetow says insurance plans usually don't cover hearing aids, but that is gradually changing.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Insound Medical
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