Research Reveals Hope for People with Hearing Loss; Hearing Aids Integral to Quality of Life

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Dr. Peter J. Marincovich of Audiology Associates discusses the latest findings on hearing loss and explains how hearing aid technology has improved to meet the demand.

Peter J. Marincovich, Ph.D., CCC-A

Improved quality of life is always the greatest benefit we see from our patients ...

Researchers at Indiana University say that findings of a new study achieved through a randomized clinical trial of hearing aids and the people who use them – over-the-counter verses from a trained audiologist – that people are much more satisfied with hearing devices when they get help from a professional. But no matter how they get hearing aids people who have difficulty hearing benefit greatly from the devices.

“Improved quality of life is always the greatest benefit we see from our patients,” says Peter J. Marincovich, Ph.D., CCC-A, of Audiology Associates of Sonoma County. “Hearing aid technology and the availability of new models has remarkably improved in recent years, making them much more accessible for people with hearing difficulties. It really is not surprising that this study bears out what we see in patients on a daily basis; improved hearing improves quality of life.”

About the study

This study is the only placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomized clinical trial of hearing aid outcomes to have taken place to date. Outcomes were published in the March issue of American Journal of Audiology. The resounding results clearly demonstrates that older adults benefit from hearing aid use. Probably not earth shattering news in itself, but the fact that older adults with hearing loss clearly benefit from the use of hearing aids, is good news. The goal of the study, say researchers, is to help establish the evidence base needed to support better hearing health care for older Americans aimed at enhancing the accessibility and affordability of hearing health care overall.

Why Hearing Aids Matter

Age-related hearing loss or ‘presbycusis’ refers to the gradual loss of hearing that occurs as part of the normal aging process, and it usually effects both ears. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) about one of every three people between the ages of 65 and 74 experiences hearing loss, and nearly half of those older than 75 report difficulty hearing. When a person has trouble hearing it can be difficult to understand and follow a doctor’s advice, respond to warnings such as smoke alarms, hear the phone ringing, or respond to doorbells. Hearing loss can also make it hard to enjoy talking with family and friends, and this inevitably leads to feelings of isolation.

“By reviewing studies such as this, audiologists and hearing specialists have the opportunity to expand on their understanding of how patients receive hearing aid technology and support improved hearing health care, particularly for older Americans with hearing loss,” says Dr. Marincovich.

From the latest statistics on the subject, it’s easy to see that there is a large population of people who could benefit from hearing aids, but they don’t have them – meaning that a lot of people who need hearing aids simply don’t have access to them. As many as 29 million U.S. adults would be helped by using hearing aids, says the NIDCD. Yet, among those adults aged 70 and older who need hearing aids the most, more than 30 percent never have or use them. There is also a segment of the younger population – as much as 16 percent of 20-69 year old’s that could benefit significantly from hearing aids.

Advanced hearing tests like pitch matching, loudness balancing and extensive, patient-centered interviews with an audiologist help determine the level of hearing loss and best treatment for the individual. “Audiologists use a unique hearing protocol designed to match each patient’s individual hearing needs,” explains Dr. Marincovich. “People who have lived with hearing loss for extended periods of time often forget what hearing clearly sounds and feels like, so by taking a patient through a series of specially designed tests, we can better determine what will work for that individual person. This isn’t something you can get over-the-counter, and it’s an important element for patient satisfaction.”

About Audiology Associates

Audiology Associates offers a comprehensive approach to the science of hearing, from state-of-the-art diagnostic testing services and digital hearing technology to assistive technology and rehabilitative therapy. The Audiology Associates team of fully credentialed certified audiologists and trained Audiology aides work with patients and physicians to accurately assess hearing needs, then develop a plan of action to ensure the best hearing outcome possible.

Since 1984, Audiology Associates has been committed to improving the hearing and communication of residents of the North Bay and the surrounding area. Dr. Marincovich and his team of hearing care professionals pride themselves on their full-spectrum of clinical services, educational community outreach, diagnostics, hearing rehabilitation and balance care programs, as well as hearing loss prevention and research. To learn more visit the website or call 707-523-4740 to schedule an appointment for expert hearing care.

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John Beilharz
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