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October 29, 2003

Health Alert: smart hearing aid

From: WIS, SC - Oct 29, 2003

(Columbia) Oct. 29, 2003 - Hearing loss affects people of all ages. Three months ago, a walk in the park for Roy Baldwin sounded jumbled, even with hearing aids, "I had two different pair. Neither one of them worked successfully. They just magnified sounds, and that was about all you could say for them. It served as a good ear plug."

New, all-digital hearing aids are changing that. Roy's new hearing aid automatically distinguishes between speech and sounds.

Audiologist Lisa Myrick says, "The key reason somebody comes in for a hearing aid is that they cannot understand speech anymore. It's not so much that they don't hear."

The digital chip has a dual microphone system to balance sounds. Myrick says it won't cure hearing loss or reproduce natural hearing, but it's close, "If you've worn a hearing aid in the past, you will be surprised at the difference of what you hear."

She says the new models also helps reduce annoying feedback, "There's a whistling sound, or a feedback sound, that a hearing aid can make, and with this hearing aid it has a cancellation process that allows the feedback to be managed automatically again."

Roy enjoys his new aid, because he can control the levels to make himself more comfortable, "I even have a button for a telephone where I can talk over the telephone. It also has one just for music that makes the music more full." Now, Roy says the world around him is crystal clear.

Standard hearing aids cost between $800 and $1000 for one instrument. A digital hearing aid runs between $2300 to $3000. The new hearing aids work for any age and come in several sizes.

by Dawn Mercer

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