Making Better Hearing Affordable: MDHearingAid


…From your iPods to laptops and tablets, headphones really, like these, they become a staple. You see them everywhere. Many people, old people, young people, they’re all using them, but could a certain type of headphone device actually be putting your health at risk.

Joining us this morning is Dr. Sreek Cherukuri. He is an ear, nose, and throat specialist and he’s going to inform us about what some of the potential risks are. Good morning.

Dr. Cherukuri: Thank you for having me.

Lauren: Thank you so much for coming out. Of course I brought this as an example, but during the break we were getting prepared for this interview and you told me that there is a certain amount of hearing loss that statistics are showing now and it’s because of the use of headphone and ear buds, like these.

Tell us what the problem really is.

Dr. Cherukuri: Over the last decade it’s become a more noisy world. Historically walkman type radios and cassette players used to last a couple of hours and not get that loud, but now with the new technology, rechargeable batteries, the devices go all day, 12 or 15 hours.

People will listen to music and the volume levels can get above what OSHA recommends is too loud for their workers. A University of Michigan study showed about 20% of teenagers have a slight hearing loss and we have to think that it’s due to loud noise.

Lauren: We know, of course, that teens like their music louder. We talked about how some of the devices are actually designed in such a way that they go into your ear. They’re right next to, as you described, the eardrum causing this problem.

Dr. Cherukuri: That’s right. The closer you are to the eardrum, the more direct the sound is and not filtered and that can cause a louder volume.

Lauren: We’re taking a look at some form of a diagram here. Can you explain what we’re seeing there?

Dr. Cherukuri: We’re seeing an eardrum, which then takes the sound wave, vibrates it to the bones of hearing, which is the pivot items there and then the signal goes to the inner ear and then to the brain, which processes and tells you what you’re hearing.

Lauren: I like how you talked about the fact that this is an interpersonal sense that people often take for granted. Can you speak to that a little bit?

Dr. Cherukuri: Right because hearing is one of those senses that requires two people and if one person is neglecting it, either at the workplace or at home, many other people suffer. There’s a study in Britain that showed higher risk of marital dissatisfaction or even divorce when one spouse had untreated hearing loss.

Lauren: Some of that is selective hearing loss, but let’s talk about a device that you have helped to develop that should help make approaching hearing loss more accessible because we know that a lot of the hearing aids are very expensive, but you’ve designed something that’s helpful.

Dr. Cherukuri: In my practice every day I’d see people that would benefit from hearing aids, either at the workplace or in their home life and they couldn’t afford one to three thousand dollar price that Medicare or other insurances didn’t cover.

So we designed a low cost hearing aid. We took out all the bells and whistles and just made a very high…

Lauren: And we have an example of it right here. Let’s hold up that and of course this is available at this and maybe we’ll put the information on our website. This is just under $200.

Dr. Cherukuri: Under $200.

Lauren: As opposed to thousands of dollars.

Dr. Cherukuri: It’s in line with other electronics like an iPad.

Lauren: Dr. Cherukuri, want to thank you so much. This is critical information. Like you said, people will buy glasses all day long, but you want to protect your hearing.

Dr. Cherukuri: Absolutely.

Lauren: Thanks again.

Dr. Cherukuri: Thank you.