If you’re not watching the news, you might’ve missed some of the emerging technologies totally transforming how people deal with hearing loss. Some of the more exciting and emerging progressions involve Bluetooth and wireless connectivity, music, and bone conduction technology and artificial intelligence (AI) assistants.
Those of you familiar with smartwatches or fitness trackers are already aware of the power and potential wearable technology holds. The Bluetooth functionality these gadgets use, which wirelessly connects the device with a computer, phone or television, is making its way to the hearing industry.
If it doesn’t already, your next hearing aid could very well feature Bluetooth compatibility, which will enhance your ability to receive sound and connect to your favorite devices. As technology advances, there may even be ways to “hear” in more unconventional but perfectly effective ways. Connecting your hearing aids to your smart devices is just one more way smart technology is transforming your ability to do things.
Another hearing technology transforming lives is bone conduction. The process known as “bone conduction” transmits sound through vibrations along the jaw and cheekbones of your face, bypassing your eardrum in favor of stimulation of the inner ear. This type of listening may be particularly beneficial for audiophiles or those looking for ways to enjoy music despite hearing loss.
Though somewhat menacing sounding, artificial intelligence is actually improving our lives in many different functions. Fortunately for the hearing impaired, this includes using robotics to predict a better fit for a hearing aid or cochlear implant. While it’s still a work-in-progress in this space, the thought is that AI could shorten the process involved with fine-tuning your hearing device and improve the experience.
Hearing loss can be a debilitating condition that robs us of our independence. But according to coverage by AARP on research recently published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), it may also contribute to higher hospitalization rates and greater healthcare costs.
The announcement publicized findings from a study of more than 150,000 people, 50 years or older, who reported age-related hearing loss and did not use a hearing aid. The study concluded that hearing loss can affect the body in ways that reach far beyond the ears.
According to the report, people living with untreated hearing loss have a greater risk of battling depression, dementia, heart attack, and falls. The study’s authors explored these areas further, citing a 52 percent greater risk of dementia, a 41 percent greater risk of depression and nearly a 30 percent greater risk of falling for those with untreated hearing loss in comparison to peers with normal hearing.
The Center for Hearing and Communication (CHC), a nonprofit hearing healthcare leader that has served the hearing impaired since 1910, lists the number of Americans with significant hearing loss at a staggering 48 million.
Hearing aids have certainly proven to offer a dramatic improvement and help to combat the effects of hearing loss.
In what could be a result of that inflated illness rate, JAMA’s report found those dealing with untreated hearing loss needed 50 percent more hospital stays over a 10-year-period than someone without a hearing problem. Moreover, the rate of hospital readmission within 30 days was 44 percent higher for patients suffering from hearing loss. Because of this, it comes as no surprise that healthcare costs were 46 percent higher for this population than their counterparts with normal hearing. That means prolonged hearing loss can not only affect your health but also your wallet.
The CHC says people suffer from hearing loss for an average of seven years before seeking help. The advocacy group implores Americans everywhere to start beating that average, which may seem more enticing than ever before due to new advancements that make living with hearing loss easier.
If you’re still unclear about the role hearing can have on your overall health, check out our resources on hearing loss or contact a hearing specialist for your annual hearing test.
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