At least 1 person out of 6 of the UK's population is suffering from a certain degree of hearing loss and the statistics show that the number of hearing impaired will continue to grow at an alarming rate.
Hearing loss is a condition that may result from a variety of causes - ageing, diseases, heredity, loud noise exposure, ear infections, ear wax build up, medication intake, etc.
When it comes to understanding hearing loss it is important to be aware of how the ear works and especially the essential function of the hair cells (both inner and outer) located within the cochlea of the inner ear. Without the help of the hair cells we are not be able to detect the wide range of frequencies we are usually able to hear. The number of hair cells is quite impressive (between 17 000 and 23 000) and each one of them is specialised in either low or high frequencies sounds, which are then transmitted to the brain. Although being crucial to the hearing process, they are not able to regrow or regenerate when damaged and begin to naturally diminish in number as age progresses.
Currently, the solution to this problem is the use of assistive listening devices, which can help manage hearing loss and enable those suffering from it to lead a socially active and fulfilling life. In a bid to address any hearing loss concerns the first step is crucially, to seek a full diagnostic assessment. The hearing test will evaluate one's hearing against a normative value and based on the signature of the loss and site of impairment, can provide an insight into the best management program.
Without a doubt, the most popular device offering such a management service is the hearing aid. It provides additional amplification and depending on the chosen model can suit the individual needs of people with different types of hearing loss - from mild to severe. Most of the contemporary devices include many features for precise adjustment in order to provide the user with a natural experience and high quality sound. Some of the leading manufacturers available on the market include Phonak, ReSound, Signia, Starkey and Widex. Their main aim is to provide hearing aids with a modern and discrete design, which operate without feedback even in the most challenging listening environments. Hearing Direct has its own brand of digital hearing devices, which are ready to wear and offer high quality digital amplification and comfortable and easy handling and experience.
Besides hearing aids, those suffering from hearing loss can choose from a wide range of assistive listening devices that can further better their lives and help them with normal daily activities. Amplified doorbells, for example, can amplify the sound of the ring with up to 95dB and are also usually equipped with flash indicators.
The hearing impaired can also benefit from specially designed amplified phones, which can be either corded or cordless. They can provide up to 40dB amplification in volume (a normal phone is around 8dB) and are usually hearing aid compatible and offer additional features such as a large display, big buttons and a navigational menu that is easy to operate. Those who prefer mobile phones can choose between the models of respectable companies such as Emporia, Geemarc, Switel and Doro. Another useful device is the extra loud alarm clock, which accomplishes its purpose with a variety of methods such as high levels of amplification, flashing lights and vibrations.