HUNLOCK CREEK, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – Many people deprive themselves of interacting with family, friends and the community because they have trouble hearing. While 48 million Americans suffer from hearing loss, only about 20 percent wear hearing aids.
Many people with moderate hearing loss who don’t have a hearing aid tend to struggle keeping up with conversations. As Eyewitness News Healthbeat Reporter Mark Hiller explains, the devices now available to people struggling to hear are better than ever.
When you look at Audiologist Kayla Bloom of Back Mountain Hearing Care in Hunlock Creek, it’s virtually impossible to detect something she wears every single day. “So as you can see, they’re tiny,” after removing the devices from her ears.
They’re the 21st century version of what hearing aids look like. The one fitted for Dr. Bloom’s right ear is red while the other is color-coded blue. Their size is unlike the bulkier ones that existed decades ago. “They’re so small these days. And I always tell people that your hearing loss is far more obvious than a hearing aid. Because you’re saying huh and everybody having to repeat themselves all the time or you missing things or responding incorrectly,” she said.
While over the counter devices might help with mild to perhaps moderate hearing loss, Dr. Bloom says essentially those products are amplifiers which are not targeting the specific problem. “The most common hearing loss especially with age is good, low frequency hearing and poor high frequency hearing. So, if you’re turning everything up those bassier sounds are getting way too loud before you’re even touching those higher frequencies.”
With patients ranging in age from young children to seniors, Dr. Bloom can test them and determine if that hearing loss is mild, moderate, severe or profound then equip patients with a hearing aid that’s just the right fit. “We put the different hearing levels into the computer and program the hearing aid based on your specific hearing loss so each frequency has a different volume it needs to be.” And help patients hear crystal clear. “And they have noise reduction. They can figure out the difference between a speech signal and a noise signal and reduce that noise so the speech can stand out over it.”
The Association of Independent Hearing Healthcare Professionals recommends people 18 to 45 get their hearing tested once every five years. If you’re between 45 and 60, get it done every three years and if you’re 60 or older undergo a hearing test every other year.