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Hearing Aids Can Increase Your Life Span?

Dr Cherukuri’s interview with RadioMD on hearing loss and how it affects your health.


radiomd-melanie-coleMelanie: Many people know that hearing aids can improve the quality of your hearing and the quality of your life, but some don’t know that it can also improve the quantity of your life. My guest today is Dr. … I said it perfectly before the show. Sreekant Cherukuri is Board-Certified Otolaryngologist based in Chicago and the founder of MDHearingAid. We’re in Chicago too Dr. Cherukuri.

Let’s talk about hearing aids. Really, people who have hearing issues don’t always identify them. Sometimes their kids or their spouses get so aggravated and upset, they say, “God, go see an audiologist. Get your hearing checked.” It’s something that still carries a stigma. Tell us some of the risks of not getting your hearing checked, or not getting it taken care of if something is going on.

Dr. Cherukuri: Hearing loss, people assume it’s just a normal part of aging like arthritis or some other things, but you’re correct that of all the disabilities and elements we get in our age, this is one that we are very comfortable ignoring. People think it’s just a communication issue, but it’s far more than that. There’s been a lot of research in the last 10 years and even in the last few years linking untreated hearing loss, meaning if you ignore the hearing loss or don’t get it treated, to a higher risk of mortality.

Meaning people who had hearing loss that was untreated have a higher risk of dying than those that did use hearing aids. It’s more than that. We don’t think of our ears as the main organ of balance, but that’s what they are. There have been studies that show that people with untreated hearing loss have a higher risk of falling. One of the things you may know is that fall is the leading cause of fatal and nonfatal injuries amongst the elderly.

Melanie: They certainly increase the mortality rate and balance, and all that in an ear. As a trainer, I work with people on functional training and balance so, so often, and I do notice that my hearing impaired patients definitely have a little bit more of an issue with it. You even see it in kids with an ear infection, so you know that this is a big part of balance and that can increase falls increasing mortality. Tell us first what is a hearing aid intended to do? If someone goes for that hearing check, what is a hearing aid even supposed to do?

Dr. Cherukuri: A lot of times, hearing aids are linked or compared to glasses, but there’s a general difference is that where glasses help to reflect the image on the proper part of a working retina. The hearing aid is trying to amplify sounds to a nonworking or an impaired hearing nerve. That’s the big difference is the nerve is not working right, so the hearing suffers.

Hearing aid primarily is going to take input like voices and sounds, and amplify them to a level where the nerve can hear it. Since the nerve is damaged, it will never be normal hearing like you’d had when you were younger. That being said, it’s till much better than ignoring it. That’s in a nutshell what a hearing aid does.

Melanie: I always find that stigma interesting, because nobody’s yelling at a blind person. I said this too off the air, but I know people are so impatient with people with hearing loss that they’re like, “Why can’t you understand me? I’m speaking slow. I’m speaking loud,” or something along those lines. They would never yell at another kind of disability, but for some reasons, they feel impatient with people with hearing loss. Tell us about hearing aids now. Are there different styles of hearing aids that used to be this big box that sat on your chest and had wires like the kids have today with the head pods. What’s different about them now?

Dr. Cherukuri: One I want to address here is stigma. The funny thing is people that have hearing loss that have chosen to ignore it, they think that wearing a device to help them communicate will make them look old. What they don’t realize is when they don’t hear and they’re asking people to repeat, they seem less capable and less confident, and in fact much older. That’s the irony of the stigma. You are correct. The older hearing aids were big, bulky things that sat behind your ear, and told everybody, “Hey, I’m old and hearing impaired.”

The newer ones are very, very tiny. They can go behind the ear, so you barely see them, or in the ear. Their function is a lot better than just five or 10 years ago. The challenge with hearing aids which we’ll get into later is the fact that Medicare and most insurance companies don’t cover them, and they are generally several thousand dollars each, which is the out of pocket expense, which many, many people with hearing loss would have a hard time with.

Melanie: Like retainers, they’re so expensive, and people tend to loss them because they’re so tiny. They’re trying to change the batteries. I helped a lot of old people change the batteries in their hearing aids. Those tiny, little batteries, they’re hard to grasp, and then they drop the thing. Then they’re searching all over for this tiny, little hearing aid. I think you ENTs need to come up with a way for these little, tiny hearing aids to not be able to be dropped or something like that.

What are some of the different kinds that are out there?

Dr. Cherukuri: In terms of the general categories of hearing aids, you’ve identified one challenge. People want something that’s less visible, but they also want something that they can handle and change the batteries easily, which means on one hand, the small size, and on the other hand, the slightly larger size. It’s a challenge of addressing the market on what they want.

In terms of the hearing aids, there’s two general kinds. There’s custom hearing aids which are the traditional type of hearing aid. You go to a doctor or audiologist. You get a hearing test, and you get custom program hearing aid to your exact loss. That is the best solution, but it’s also the most expensive, and again about $2,000 each on average out of pocket.

The second type of hearing aid, which is one our company MDHearingAid have developed, is a non-custom hearing aid. These are offered in a direct the consumer fashion. They are still FDA registered. What we did, our team of audiologists and ear, nose, and throat doctors, we evaluated thousands of hearing tests, and realize that the vast majority of people fall into one, two, or three categories of hearing configurations. We pair that with a volume doll in a program setting. This way, the consumer can make the changes based on their needs and their environment to what suits them the best. Our hearing aids are $200 to $500, so far more in line with consumer electronic prices, and much more affordable.

Melanie: That’s really very cool. Tell us where they can find them, the hearing aids.

Dr. Cherukuri: They’re available online at If you can go to that website, you can also get brochures. They’re ordered by mail order, but the beauty of it all is the convenience. Typically, a traditional hearing aid takes several weeks to go to the doctor or audiologist. Get the testing. Get the fitting. Get the reprogramming, and that all comes with a significant expense.

Ours are shipped directly to the consumer’s home. They are able to make changes in their home without having to make separate appointments. The beauty of it all is if the product doesn’t meet your needs, you have a 45-day in-home trial with a money back guarantee.

Melanie: I like the days to go back of ear trumpets, when you see those old guys holding up their ear trumpets. We only have a couple of minutes left. Tell us doctor about implantable hearing aids. Is this the wave of the future? What do you see happening?

Dr. Cherukuri: Right now, there are a few different types of implantable hearing devices. The one we’ve all heard about is cochlear implants, which initially came to the market for young people who had congenital deafness, and now they could hear. The indications where a cochlear implant have expanded, so now that there’s a fair amount of adult and elderly people that if hearing aids cannot work for them, a cochlear implant is the option.

That is a surgery. It requires a fair amount of follow up, but the one thing is when a noninvasive device like a hearing aid is not an option, now a surgical option is available. Then the other types of implantable hearing aids, there are …

Melanie: We only have about 35 seconds, so I’d love you to really give your best advice doctor about …

Dr. Cherukuri: The best device is hearing loss, ignoring it can lead to balance disorders, Alzheimers and dementia, social isolation, depression, and anxiety. I tell everybody that your quality of life, the amount of enjoyment, the number of new memories you can make will be so much more magnified if you’re using hearing aids and rejoining society and enjoying every moment of your life.

Melanie: He used the word magnified. Isn’t that the truth and balance and isolation. There’s so many things that not only does it increase the quality of your life, but the quantity as well, so it can save you maybe a few years. You’ll never know. Get your hearing checked. If you have to, go see an audiologist. This is Melanie Cole’s Health Radio. Thanks for listening. Stay well.

FIT As A Gift?

Radar Online features the MDHearingAid FIT in their Celebrity Gift Guide, as a great gift for the “active adult who needs hearing help but doesn’t want to be tethered to conventional hearing aids.” See the FIT along with juicers, clothing, games and Sharper Image toys in the Radar Guide.


Find out more about the FIT hearing aid here

Digital Hearing Aid Channels & Bands: What’s the difference?

What is the difference between channels and bands in a digital hearing aid? Hearing healthcare professionals often mention these terms when comparing different hearing aids.

Bands break up the hearing spectrum and allow each portion of the frequency range to be adjusted individually. This is sometimes called the equalizer and can be thought of as similar to an equalizer on a stereo system. For example, if you have hearing loss in the higher pitches, but not in the lower pitches, the bands would be used to adjust the higher pitches only (leaving the lower pitches un-amplified) so that you could hear better.

Channels are involved in helping soft sounds get amplified into a comfortable range, preventing loud sounds from becoming too loud, noise reduction and feedback (whisting) prevention. For example, if a firetruck passed by you, your hearing could be damaged by the loud sound of a firetruck siren. The channels would compress (flatten) the sound to prevent it from being loud enough to damage your hearing.

​​​​The MDHearingAid AIR has 12 bands and 2 channels. The MDHearingAid FIT has 12 bands and 8 channels. ​ ​These are similar to specifications found in hearing aids costing thousands of dollars by Costco, Oticon, Starkey, Resound, Phonak, Widex, Unitron, Beltone, Miracle Ear, and Siemens.

Analog Hearing Aids

What is the difference between analog and digital hearing aids? Analog hearing aids use a microphone, amplifier, and receiver to make sounds louder. They also typically have a “peak limiter” which prevents sounds from becoming too loud. Digital hearing aids also have a microphone, amplifier, and receiver. They also have a mechanism to prevent sounds from becoming too loud in the form of a microchip. This microchip takes the sound wave (an analog signal) and converts it to a digital signal. Then it is processed and converted back into a sound wave.

Digital hearing aids are wonderful and have a clean, crisp sound quality. However, sometimes something is lost in the conversion from analog to digital. For that reason, some people prefer analog hearing aids.

Analog hearing aids often sound better for music, particularly recorded music. Also, some users also report they sound more natural and “less processed” than digital aids. However, major hearing aid manufacturers have discontinue analog hearing aids. This created problems for many people.

Thankfully, MDHearingAid has the PRO hearing aid. The PRO is an analog, behind the ear hearing aid. It utilizes a size 13 battery for a long battery life lasting two to three weeks. The PRO has a full range volume control and two different programs, one for high frequency hearing loss and one for flat hearing loss, so that you are able to fully customize the fitting. The PRO is one of the last available analog hearing aids today.

Best Hearing Aid for Music

While digital hearing aids are wonderful for hearing speech, they have a weak spot when it comes to music. This weak spot is the analog-to-digital (A/D) converter found in all digital hearing aids.

Digital hearing aids are not usually designed to amplify sounds over 90dB but live music can easily be 100-120dB. When a 100dB sound enters a digital hearing aid, the A/D converter becomes saturated which causes the sound to become distorted. This means music sounds awful!

Unfortunately, recorded music is no better. Often recorded music is compressed during production. When listened to through a hearing aid, the music is compressed again which causes more distortion.

As reported in the Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, a study by Leek, et al indicated that audiologists should be aware that 25-30% of hearing aid users may have difficulty listening to music with digital hearing aids. A study performed by the University of Colorado Boulder suggests that less sophisticated hearing aids may be more compatible with listening to music.

The solution is to use an analog hearing aid. Analog hearing aids have long been enjoyed by music lovers due to their clean reproduction of sound. In fact, some audiologists suggest putting scotch tape over the microphone of digital hearing aids in order to make them behave more like analog aids! Analog hearing aids allow for true sound reproduction, without conversion, so that you can enjoy the wide range of sounds of music.

However, analog hearing aids have been phased out of production by many hearing aid manufacturers making them difficult to find. Thankfully, the MDHearingAid PRO is a premium analog hearing aid. It has a clear, crisp sound enjoyed by music lovers and is affordable. The PRO also has an independent volume control and two different programs to control the frequency response so that you are hearing what you want to hear.

If you are a digital hearing aid user who enjoys your digital aids for speech but find them lacking for music, a set of analog aids for music may be the solution for you.

Here is one customer’s rave review:

Dear people:

I recently bought two hearing aids from you. I am extremely happy with them and I feel you should know why.

I am a musician. I play the piano and frequently go to symphony concerts. Due to old age I have fairly severe hearing loss in both ears. For speech recognition I wear a couple of conventional digital hearing aids. Those devices are extremely helpful for day-to-day use but unfortunately distort musical sound rather severely. This is probably due to the fact that digital hearing aids measure the presence of high frequencies that are beyond good hearing and translate those into sounds that are an octave lower. This distortion makes pianos sound metallic. Instruments with high amounts of overtones, such as violins, sound shrill. Toning down the treble of digital hearing aids alleviates this somewhat but not enough to make a piano sound natural. The solution, I am very happy to say, is to wear analog hearing aids when listening to music.

Your hearing aids have made listening to music a pleasure again.


Say What? ‘Generation Deaf’ Gets a Warning from Doctors

MDHearingAid’s founder, Dr. Sreek Cherukuri was one of the experts consulted for a feature at NBC News about young people and hearing damage.

Read more about the potential hazards that may result from improper use of ear buds in:

Generation Deaf: Doctors Warn of Dangers of Ear Buds

MDHearingAid, Inc. Recognized by
Better Business Bureau


MDHearingAid has earned a special Membership Recognition Award from the Better Business Bureau. This award honors our effort in enhancing and maintaining an ethical marketplace in the Hearing Aid Industry.

Additionally, the 103 year old Better Business Bureau has bestowed its highest possible rating  an A+ to MDHearingAid. A+ rated businesses are judged on 16 factors by the BBB.

MDHearingAid stands behind all of our hearing aids with a Risk-Free Trial, 100% Money-Back Gurantee and unprecedented 24 hours a day, 7 days a week customer support.


Evan and Deb on WHNZ interview Dr Sreek Cherukuri About Hearing

Intro: Growing your wealth, keeping your health, making life richer day by day. Evan and Deb in the evenings on 1250 WHNZ, W-H-N-Z. Now, Evan and Deb.

Evan Gold: All right, Howard Rosenthal’s up in a little while. This is Evan Gold and we’re going to be talking about the Mr. Food Test Kitchen guilt-free weeknight favorites, and also hearing. When should you get your hearing test and what should you do about it if you have problems? You’re listen to Evan and Deb in the evenings right now. All right we’ve got Dr. Cherukuri with us right now. He’s an otolaryngologist and we’re going to talk about hearing. Dr. Cherukuri, welcome to Evan and Deb.

Dr. Cherukuri: Hello. Thank you for having me and good evening.

Evan Gold: Our pleasure. Now hearing, it’s something as interesting I’ve heard this it’s also about eyesight, is that you guys just haven’t been as successful getting people to get their hearing or eyes checked as dentists are. Dentists convince a lot of people you got to go see your dentist twice a year, but it’s hard to get people to go check their hearing, isn’t it? [Read more…]

Hearing Loss in the Military

Hearing Loss in the Military

When asked to consider the injuries that military veterans most commonly suffer from, most people would be quick to name brain damage, lost limbs, burns, or post-traumatic stress disorder as the most frequent injuries. However, they would be wrong; in fact, the most-widespread injury for returning veterans is hearing loss.

Hearing loss, which is caused by permanent damage to the hair cells within the inner ear, comes as a result of exposure to sounds 140 decibels and higher. These loud noises can also cause tinnitus, a type of hearing damage in which someone experiences a persistent ringing sound in their ears.

Surprisingly, hearing loss and tinnitus are currently the top two most compensated disabilities in the Veterans Benefits Association, and as of 2014, more than 400,000 veterans of U.S. campaigns in Afghanistan and/or Iraq report experiencing hearing loss, tinnitus, or both.

These incidents of hearing loss are rising at a rate of 13-18% per year, and with that increase, the VA is spending more and more money on major auditory disabilities. In 2010, the VA spent around $1.39 billion in disability payments for major auditory disabilities, and at the current rate of increase, the VA predicts that hearing-related payouts will reach more than $2 billion by 2016. Among the different branches of the military, Army veterans report the highest rate of hearing loss, with 50% of Army veterans reporting some hearing loss by the age of fifty, followed by Air Force veterans (42%) and Navy veterans (37%). To put that into perspective, only a few professions rank higher than the military for hearing loss, including construction and mining at 60% each.

Few people realize that the history of hearing loss in the military can be traced to the early 1940s. During this era, the U.S. Army concluded that military members who were regularly exposed to government should be provided with protective earplugs as part of their standard kit; however, their use was not required, and in fact, wearing protective ear coverings and ear plugs was seen as a sign of weakness.

In the 1960s, the army devoted more time and resources to studying hearing damage in the military. Their research found that 50-60% of situational awareness is based on a person’s hearing. Their findings were particularly useful for the military because they discovered that with good hearing, it takes a soldier approximately 40 seconds to identify a target, while a soldier with bad hearing will take approximately 90 seconds.

Of the specific causes of hearing damage in the military, roughly seven out of ten cases of hearing loss and/or tinnitus are caused by blasts, while roadside bombs result in half of the veterans involved getting some form of hearing damage. While relatively quiet military equipment exists (such as an Abrams tank or a Kiowa helicopter), the vast majority of military equipment is equal to commonly loud noises we hear in everyday life. For example, a rock concert typically measures 130 decibels, and an M9 handgun measures 157 decibels. An m3 recoilless rifle, meanwhile, can measure as much as 190 decibels.

However, it isn’t just military arms that cause hearing damage; in fact, sustained exposure to loud noises can cause hearing damage as well. For example, a 2.5 ton truck idling at 85 decibels is loud enough to cause permanent damage after only an eight hour work day. Also, military vehicles tend to be much louder than civilian vehicles, meaning that the risk of hearing loss is far more extensive to those who are constantly around these vehicles than to military members just in combat operations.

Since 2010, the Department of Veteran Affairs has required a hearing examination for veterans based on their Military Occupational Specialty. The hearing aid experts at MD Hearing Aid recommend that veterans schedule an appointment with an audiologist to determine if they have hearing loss caused by their military service. Since damage to your ear’s hair cells can’t be undone, it’s also recommended that veterans take preventative measures during their civilian activities, such as using ear plugs while mowing the lawn.

At this time, nothing can be done to replace hair cells in humans. Damaged hair cells must be compensated for with the use of hearing aids or cochlear implants. While it might be tempting to do nothing about your hearing loss, hearing loss can lead to social isolation and limited career opportunities for veterans struggling to reintegrate into society. Schedule a hearing appointment with an audiologist today to learn if you’re suffering from hearing loss related to your time in the military.

Link to this infographic:

Fox TV: Tips To Prevent Future Hearing Loss

Jason Carr: We just learned something about headphones during the break, and now we’re going to educate you. We’d like to block the world out sometimes, a lot of the young people do that, but we could be causing hearing loss. Joining us this morning is Dr. Skreekant Cherukuri, and he is going to elucidate on the dangers of playing your music too loud. When you and I were younger, we had discmans, and walkmans, and what I remember about those is that they has the foam outer head phones. Those have changed.

Dr. Cherukuri: That’s right. Back in the day, the batteries didn’t last too long. They had to run the motor for the cassette or the CD, and they didn’t get that loud. But nowadays, with advances in technology, iPods, and other MP3 players, they can go all day. They can get up to 115 decibels, which is almost as loud as a rock concert, and some of the ear buds sit in your ear canal, much closer to the ear drum, which can get 7-9 decibels louder.

Jason Carr: We’re looking at a graphic right now. Thirty percent higher than it was in the 1980’s and 90’s. Some experts attribute this to increased use of headphones with teenagers. There’s some more interesting graphical information.

You and I both, it turns out, spent time DJ’ing in night clubs. In the DJ booth, you cue a record, I used to play records, by holding it up to your ear with your shoulder, and it had to be louder than the music in the club, so …

Dr. Cherukuri: That’s exactly right.

Jason Carr: …We both have permanent hearing loss in one of our ears.

Dr. Cherukuri: Yes, and it’s the left ear, in my case.

Jason Carr: Yeah, mine too.

Dr. Cherukuri: That’s a common DJ ear if you are right handed.

Jason Carr: If you’re used to doing that. It wasn’t that long. It was just a few years.

Dr. Cherukuri: Myself as well. The challenges you mentioned is the sound of the headphone has to be louder than the ambient sound. That also applies to people commuting on a train, for example, or even just ambient city noise. For example, a kid mowing the lawn, the lawn mower is at 95 decibels, if he’s playing headphones, he’s got to be much higher than that. At 115 decibels, which is the maximum output, you can get permanent damage in as little as 8-15 minutes.

Jason Carr: Eight to 15 minutes, and permanent hearing loss for life?

Dr. Cherukuri: Yeah, it’s gradual, but yes, it’s permanent.

Jason Carr: Is it true that human hearing peaks at, what is it, 9 years-old? Then it starts dropping off after that?

Dr. Cherukuri: That’s correct.

Jason Carr: Why is that?

Dr. Cherukuri: I’m not sure why the etiology. It could be accumulation of noise, but yes, children and babies can hear a much higher frequency than even teenagers or adults.

Jason Carr: Wow, it’s crazy. You see the commercial here, basically extolling the virtues of spending your entire life connected, wired up, canceling the world out. How do you combat this.

Dr. Cherukuri: All right, so a couple of things. We talk about the 60/60 rule, which is play it at 60 percent of maximum volume for 60 minutes, and then take a break. Ears that get a rest, are less likely to get damaged. Two, is on our website,, we offer both headphones that are safe for children and teens, regardless of the MP3 player, they won’t go above 85 decibels, which is the safe level.

Jason Carr: Really, that’s one way of doing it.

Dr. Cherukuri: We also have ear plugs, high fidelity ear plugs. If you go to a concert, there’s a study that showed that almost 70 percent of teens leaving a concert had temporary threshold shift, which is a precursor to permanent hearing loss.

Jason Carr: Now, we’re looking at this model right here. There’s a lot going on.

Dr. Cherukuri: The main thing is, the in the ear headphones, in the canal, sit closer to the ear drum and can get much louder. I recommend over the ear earphones, especially if they are noise canceling, so they reduce ambient environmental noise and you don’t have to turn it up louder.

Jason Carr: It cancels the noise, so you are more able to hear what you’re trying to listen to without having to jack it way up.

Dr. Cherukuri: That’s exactly right.

Jason Carr: All right, what’s the website again?

Dr. Cherukuri:

Jason Carr: if you want to purchase headphones that will keep your kids hearing intact and safe. I have a 4 year-old who is already making noise about, pun intended I guess, about having her own phone, and her own iPod and whatnot, so I want to protect her hearing. Good advice.

Dr. Cherukuri: Yeah.

Jason Carr: Dr. Skreekant Cherukuri, thank you for being here this morning.

Dr. Cherukuri: Thank you for having us.