Hearing Aids: New Fashion Statement

Armen Hareyan's picture
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Hearing Aid Trend for 2006

Those trendy techies out on the streets wearing elegantly designed ear devices may not realize it, but they're helping battle a stigma attached to hearing loss.

"You put on a hearing aid and suddenly you lose 30 IQ points and age 20 years," remarked Robert Jackler, MD, chair of otolaryngology.

Thanks to the latest technology trends, that's about to change. "Within a few years, wearing a device in your ear will be as common as wearing a wristwatch," Jackler predicted. "We are in the midst of an ear-level device revolution."

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It's estimated that one in three adults over the age of 65 has a handicapping hearing loss. Yet only 20 percent of the nation's hearing impaired wear a hearing aid to combat the problem.

With the growing trendiness of sleek, wireless electronic ear devices, Jackler predicts that in 2006, the percentage of hard-of-hearing Americans wearing ear devices - such as the ones fitted with the latest Bluetooth technology - will soar.

Ear devices of the future will have numerous purposes, Jackler said, including cell phone, MP3 player, computer and GPS interface and Web access. In November, one cellular company began marketing to the hearing-impaired by offering the ability to turn select hearing aids into wireless Bluetooth hands-free headsets.

"Once you have these devices on everyone's ears, you have the ability to use them to overcome hearing loss," Jackler said. "I can see grandma wearing a Bluetooth, and being proud of it!"

From a forecast from members of Stanford University School of Medicine about events and developments to watch in the coming months.

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