Eh? Can’t you hear the birds anymore?
Seeing the light has different meanings and ironically it also applies to hearing, for example when bird watchers with hearing loss once again hear the high-frequency call of the Goldcrest. All thanks to a modern hearing aid.
There are some who facetiously say that the reason why the Goldcrest was red listed in 2015 was because the nation’s ornithologists could no longer hear their beautiful calls. Hearing deteriorates with age, and because the population remains active at ever rising ages, it affects hobbies such as bird watching, which to a great extent involves listening.
If you suspect that your hearing is impaired, don’t hesitate to call your doctor and ask for a hearing test, conducted by an audiologist or a physician. The test produces a graph, known as an audiogram, which depicts your hearing. A computer then analyses the audiogram and creates an individual rehabilitation plan to enhance your hearing in the ranges that are impaired and the worse for wear. A hearing aid is a mechanical apparatus that does not bring back your normal hearing, but today’s hearing aids are advanced small computers able to amplify sound tailored to your particular hearing ability.
Major regional price differences
Different counties and regions have different contracts with companies providing hearing aids, which has a major bearing on price. The degree of subsidy, and the range of products available, depends on the contract that a county or region enters into, which means that a hearing aid can cost anywhere from nothing up to SEK 15,000 per ear. It’s usual to have hearing loss in both ears.
Hearing aids usually take a few weeks to test. You get to borrow one for about a month, and then make a follow-up visit to fine tune the settings. Once you’re satisfied with the test, the hearing aid needs to be used extensively for optimal performance. The brain needs 1,000 to 2,000 hours before it gets accustomed to the sound and can manage it in an optimal way.
The most common hearing aids have a frequency range of 125-8,000 Hz. This is only just enough to cope with e.g. the Goldcrest’s calls, which are often around 8,000 Hz and then some. So if you’re a birdwatcher – or bird listener – it might be a good idea to ask for a hearing aid that can handle at least up to 10,000 Hz.
These days, it’s also possible to choose between the many stylish colours. A hearing aid need no longer just be beige or brown (skin-coloured) like before, but can match it to your smartphone or your glasses if you want. AMB moulds and lacquers hearing aid shells for a number of the world’s biggest hearing aid manufacturers, so if you find a really cool hearing aid, there’s a good chance that the shell has passed through one of our lacquering facilities.
This is an edited and abridged article reproduced with kind permission from the magazine Vår fågelvärld (Our world of birds) published by the Swedish Ornithological Society. Read the full article here (pdf, 1,6 MB, in Swedish).
Photo: Hans Christiansson / Shutterstock.com