Hearing Aids

We live in a noisy world surrounded by sound. But as many as four million Australians don't hear as well as they should - many either don't' realise it or choose to ignore it.

Perth grandfather Paul Litopoulos is typical of many people struggling with hearing loss. After a lifetime working in his dry-cleaning shop with loud machinery his hearing was impaired.

"The problem is when i watch TV, that's where the problem is because i cannot follow the story and the way they talk or i just can't' hear i can't hear the voice"

What Paul could hear loud and clear was the cost of the hearing aid suggested by a specialist, when i hear the price $11,000 i says that's ridiculous i can't buy that much money."

Professor Jeff Hughes is Head of Pharmacy at Curtin University and one of the people behind a new hearing aid venture called HearMore. "Hearing aids are free to people on pensions but to wait til you're 65 to get a hearing aid when you've had hearing problems for the past 10 or 15 years is really an un needed burden on people's quality of life." HearMore is marketing its hearing aids through Pharmacies instead of visiting a GP and being referred to an audiologist customers can have their hearing tested and hearing aids ordered at a pharmacy. A range of imported hearing aids has also slashed the cost. "We are bringing into the market a new hearing aid at a lower cost a hearing aid which is certified for Australian standards and provides a new opportunity for entry cost for hearing aids." Paul was one of the first to be fitted with the new hearing aids - he says it's been life changing for him and his family.

Vice President of Audiologist Australia Helen Goulios says the organisation wasn't consulted about the pharmacy rollout and while pharmacy based hearing testing could promote greater awareness, she offers this word of caution. "Hearing loss often has an underlying medical condition and in most cases you need to see a medical practitioner to work out what that is and sometimes and audiologist as well sometimes it's quite a simple things like earwax and other times it's something that needs more attention and it can be quite serious, that would be the first thing you need to consider before you even considered looking at hearing aids."

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