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‘Sound amplifier as effective as hearing aid in moderate hearing loss’
  • By Lee Han-soo
  • Published 2019.07.30 10:48
  • Updated 2019.07.30 10:48
  • comments 0

A study has shown that moderate hearing loss patients can use a relatively inexpensive sound amplifier to achieve similar results to expensive hearing aid devices, Samsung Medical Center said Monday.

Professor Moon Il-joon

A sound amplifier is a device that simplifies the functions of a hearing aid and amplifies the sound.

Professor Moon Il-joon at the hospital confirmed the fact after comparing the clinical effects of sound amplifiers and hearing aids in 56 patients with hearing loss and found no significant difference.

Moon’s team divided the patients into three groups – severe (19), moderate (20) and moderate-severe (17) – and made them alternate between sound amplifiers and hearing aids.

In the study, the patients used both the general six-channel and high-end 64-channel hearing aids. The researchers did not tell the participants which hearing aid they were using.

As a result, the moderate patient group showed no clinically meaningful difference in their ability to listen or understand whether they wore a sound amplifier or a hearing aid.

The moderate hearing loss patient had a sound height of 50.2dB needed to hear and understand the other party in a calm state. The sound height decreased to 40.5dB when using the sound amplifier, 39.7dB with a general-type hearing aid and 39.2dB with a high-end hearing aid.

For patients that had symptoms above moderate, however, the hearing aid was more effective than the amplifier. In the case of a moderate-severe hearing loss patient, a high-grade hearing aid lowered the sound height by an additional 13.8dB when compared to a sound amplifier.

The researchers cautioned that the results should not be interpreted as meaning that sound amplifiers could replace hearing aids.

“Using sound amplifiers, which can be purchased without a prescription, can lead to the hearing loss symptom worsening as proper management is difficult,” the team said. “Also, if the degree of hearing loss is severe, there may be no effects at all.”

Patients should regularly see an otolaryngologist to improve their hearing properly, the team added.

Professor Moon said, “If hearing loss is left untreated, it can lead to dementia, which is an illness that needs to be solved in the aging society. If a patient has difficulty wearing a hearing aid due to price burdens, they should consider wearing sound amplifiers if the degree of hearing loss is not so severe.”

The results of the study were published in the latest issue of JAMA Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery.


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