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Free iPhone app makes your hearing aid hi-tech

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On a daily basis, new apps are becoming available for smartphones. Now, a free app is available to help those with a hearing deficit. According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, approximately 36 million American adults have some degree pf hearing loss; however, only 20% of individuals who could benefit from a hearing aid wear one. The app should not only enhance the function of a hearing aid one is currently using but also attract new users with its enhancements.

The ReSound Smart app is offered free of charge by Denmark-based GN ReSound, one of the planet’s largest manufacturers of hearing aids. It turns hearing aids into headphones, which can be used to remotely configure settings on their hearing aids, such as volume, treble and bass. I addition, it also remembers particular settings for different venues. If a hearing aid user adjusts his or her hearing aid for a specific location, such as a coffee shop, the location can be geotagged with GPS technology so that on a return visit, the settings will be automatically adjusted. The GPS technology also helps the user locate a misplaced hearing aid. In noisy locations, the app converts the iPhone into a microphone that can stream conversations into the hearing aid for better clarity.

The app is compatible with iPhone 5, iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 and iPhone 3GS running iOS 6 or later, or AndroidTM smartphones running version 2.3.5 or later. (not all Android smartphones are compatible). Further information is available at this link.

According to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) affects approximately 18% of the U.S. population aged 65 years and older. It is a slow, usually progressive sensorineural hearing loss that affects hearing in the frequency range of 1,000 Hz through 8,000 Hz. Early symptoms may include ringing in the ears, voices that sound mumbled or slurred, difficulty with hearing others in noisy places, and difficulty distinguishing high-pitched sounds from one another such as “s” or “th”. After arthritis and hypertension, age-related hearing loss represents the third most commonly reported chronic condition among seniors in the US. It predisposes an individual person to diminished quality of life, increasing the risk for social isolation, depression, and declining physical functioning.

In 2002 in the US, the direct medical cost for the first year of treatment of hearing loss was estimated to be more than $8.2 billion ($11.7 billion in 2011 dollars after adjusting for healthcare inflation); this figure is expected to soar to $51 billion by 2030.10 However, the health department notes that the economic as well as public health burden of hearing loss in the aging population, however, are likely under-estimates because social stigma and the gradual nature of presbycusis often leads to under-detection by friends, family, and even the patients themselves; thus, frequently delaying care until significant social impairment has occurred. Although the prevalence of age-related hearing loss in the US has remained relatively stable during the past decade, the burden of this condition is expected to intensify in the near future because of the influx of baby boomers into the senior population.