…and doctors say our lifestyles are largely to blame. High volume is damaging the sensitive cells in our inner ears and doctors say if you don’t address hearing loss early, it can cause permanent damage.
Man: That’s right and joining us this morning with more on the issue of ear, nose, and throat is our specialist Dr. Sreek Cherukuri. Did I get it right?
Dr. Cherukuri: Yes, you did. Thank you.
Woman: We’re off to a good start.
Man: Thanks for being here and getting up early.
Dr. Cherukuri: Thanks for having me.
Woman: One of the statistics that really struck me, you mentioned that people are walking around and they don’t even know that they might need some help with a hearing aid. It’s estimated that 36 million people in the US need hearing aids. Over 77% are walking around without them. That’s incredible.
Dr. Cherukuri: That’s correct. There’s a lot of denial. Usually we associate hearing loss with the elderly or senior population, but the fact is a majority of people with hearing loss are under 65. They might be in the working world and our bodies have been able to compensate either by reading lips or by getting other cues that sometimes hearing loss can go years without it being obvious.
Man: What do you believe, especially for the younger folks, has contributed to the hearing loss?
Dr. Cherukuri: We’re living in a much nosier world. Years ago, 20 years ago, a walkman could last two hours on a couple of batteries and they had foam headphones over the ear. Now that the ear buds of an iPhone or iTunes goes in the ear canal and it can go all day and they listen to that every single day. A lot more noise is delivered to the middle ear. I think that’s part of the cause.
Woman: We have this younger generation listening to the iPods and whatever. You decided something needs to be done because a lot of these people who might need a hearing aid cannot get it covered with their insurance. Is that correct?
Dr. Cherukuri: Right and that’s an unfortunate thing. Medicare and most insurance companies do not cover hearing aids as a disability device. We’re not sure exactly why that is, but the average hearing aid costs one to three thousand dollars each and that’s an out-of-pocket expense.
Woman: And that’s just for one ear.
Man: You need two of them.
Dr. Cherukuri: That’s one ear and most people need two. So in my daily practice I’d see patients all the time that would really benefit from it either at their job or with their wives or spouses or their grandkids, but if they couldn’t afford the cost, then they went without a solution, which is really heartbreaking as a doctors. Something so simple we don’t have a solution for. It got me thinking.
Man: That’s what you designed here, right?
Dr. Cherukuri: Right. So after a little bit of research, we created what we call the MDHearingAid. It’s a very good device. It’s a low cost device that can amplify the sounds associated with the human voice without overly amplifying background noise. We consider it almost like the reading glasses for your ear type of scenario where it’s a nonprescription type hearing aid. It’s been very well received and it does very well.
Man: What does this one run as compared to, you said, the one to three thousand dollars?
Dr. Cherukuri: Right. This is in line with more other consumer electronics. This is under $200 each.
Woman: That’s significantly less.
Dr. Cherukuri: It’s an affordable option and sometimes we all, as doctors, recognize that the best hearing aid is a custom fit programmed hearing aid, but those are very, very expensive, sometimes out of reach and sometimes very good is the best you’ll get.
Man: Doc, where can they find these?
Dr. Cherukuri: We have setup a website with a lot of great information. It’s called MDhearingaid.com and they can learn all about hearing loss and the importance of why it’s really critical to treat it with a hearing device or whatever.
Woman: If you’d like more information, you can call 888-670-HEAR or you can go to MDhearingaid.com and we’ll of course get that information for you on our website at Fox17online.com.