As a preview of National Hearing Day, Professor Olivier Sterkers explains the benefits of a brand new lightweight device to improve the symptoms of beginner deafness.
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Pr Olivier Sterkers.These deafness average perception (about 1 300 000 people in France), generally bilateral, are very frequent since most often they are related to age: over time, the inner ear gradually loses its sensory cells (which transform sound into electrical energy, which is then transmitted to the auditory pathways). It is essentially the high and medium frequencies that are reached. Their function is exercised in noise for the decoding of human voices, the comprehension of words. The first symptoms of this aging of the inner ear (or presbycusis), which affects a large majority of the population, occur between 50 and 60 years (a recent decree has just established the support of a screening because it is about a real public health problem). They first manifest themselves by a certain discomfort in the noise (light or medium deafness) which, in many cases, will gradually pass to the stage of a real difficulty to follow a conversation (severe deafness) then, more years later, constitute for some a real hearing impairment.
How do affected subjects experience these alterations of their hearing?
Pr OS Still professionally active individuals feel frustrated in meetings: as a result, they have lost some self-confidence. Retired people suffer from a decline in the quality of their lives: isolation lurks because they fear, for example, going to the show, conferences, traveling … Our society is a world of communication in a noisy environment where those who hear bad live with the fear of not understanding what we will tell them.
How were people who had trouble hearing in a noisy atmosphere been helped?
Pr OSIt is first necessary to have these subjects in back pain perform an audiometric test that will assess very precisely the hearing loss according to the frequencies and its impact on understanding. Then, depending on the importance of deafness, the Orl doctor will prescribe a specific hearing aid. For these average deafness, where the discomfort is noticeable only in the noise, the solution until now was to amplify the sounds using a device applied in the external auditory canal (intra-auricular prosthesis). These prostheses, unlike those of larger deafness, are not very visible, but according to some patients have three disadvantages: the first is to have to submit to a molding of the ear canal, necessary for the placement of the prosthesis (which sometimes adapts poorly at the time of installation); the second is a clogged ear sensation, or even a foreign body, an inconvenience to which one will be forced to get used to; the third disadvantage is a strange impression of autophony, the bearers of these prostheses perceive their own voice as foreign. It seems to them modified, which induces a certain discomfort. Once the prosthesis is in place, another problem may arise, during chewing or certain movements: a kind of unpleasant parasite, such as a hissing sound. Despite the recent development of a specific microphone (anti-Larsen treatment) in these prostheses, whistles are not attenuated. But, it must be acknowledged,
What is the new device called? Non obturator ?? or ?? open fit ?? ?
Pr OS This is a prosthesis made up in part of a non-allergic plastic mini-tip placed in the external auditory canal. The latter has the enormous advantage of letting the air through the duct and having only a very limited contact with its walls. As a result, the wearer of the apparatus has absolutely no sensation of having a foreign body in the ear: he even forgets that he has a prosthesis! The fact that there is very little contact between it and the walls eliminates the risk of skin allergy. The mini-mouthpiece is connected by an ultrafine plastic tube very little visible to an ultralight mini-ear (2 cm) hidden behind the roof of the ear and which contains the batteries. According to users,
What are the advantages of this prosthesis?
Pr OS 1. It is ultralight. 2. It is very little visible. 3. It does not block the external auditory canal. 4. She does not whistle. 5. It is of a good efficiency and keeps the serious frequencies. 6. It does not cause skin allergy problem. The tolerance of non-obturating prostheses will be a new step: from now on, we will not wait any longer to get ready as soon as we start to feel embarrassed in the noise. They will be prescribed in cases of mild to moderate deafness, most often due to presbycusis, with preservation of serious frequencies, but never in cases of severe or even profound deafness.
Why is it better to get dressed early, at the first symptoms of presbycusis?
Pr OS For two main reasons. 1. To not lose touch with your environment. 2. You get used to amplifying sounds faster and easier when the number of sensory cells destroyed or in pain is small. Most often, these cells will decrease over time but the wearer of the prosthesis will be gradually accustomed to this new hearing where the sounds are amplified and more natural. This early management of deafness significantly reduces the initial discomfort and provides immediate comfort. An apparatus placed in case of already severe deafness will require a longer adaptation time with a lower tolerance to ambient noise.