Did you know that worldwide, an estimated 466 million people suffer from disabling hearing loss? That’s 6.1% of the global population! South Africa is home to over four million deaf and hard of hearing people as well; however, not everyone can afford hearing tests, treatments or hearing aids. Fortunately, MediFin offers affordable hearing finance to help those who need it most.
Understanding Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can be triggered by genetics, age-related factors, significant levels of noise exposure and some medical conditions. There are three main types:
- conductive hearing loss: caused by an issue with the ear canal, eardrum or middle ear
- sensorineural hearing loss: results in damage to the inner ear or auditory nerve
- mixed hearing loss: includes features of both forms
Regardless of the type and severity of hearing loss, MediFin can help make the costs associated with tests, treatments and hearing aids more manageable with affordable hearing finance.
Signs And Symptoms Of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss can have many causes, but the most common signs and symptoms are a gradual or sudden decrease in hearing clarity. This may manifest as an inability to hear high pitched sounds, such as birds singing, or difficulty understanding conversations in noisy environments. Other signs and symptoms include:
- A constant ringing or buzzing sound in your ears (tinnitus)
- Difficulty understanding speech, especially in the presence of background noise
- Trouble hearing consonants
- Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly
- Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
- Feeling as though your ears are plugged or full
- Worsening hearing with time
- Experiencing pain or discomfort in one or both ears
- Dizziness, nausea, or vertigo
- Increased sensitivity to loud noises
If you experience any of the above signs or symptoms, it is important to speak to your doctor as soon as possible. Early detection and treatment can help prevent further damage to your hearing. Hearing aids and other assistive devices can also improve your listening ability if necessary.
What Are The Most Common Causes Of Hearing Loss?
There are many different causes of hearing loss and they can vary depending on the type of hearing loss. Some of the most common causes include:
- Age-related hearing loss (presbycusis) is gradual which occurs as we age.
- Exposure to loud noise, whether it’s at work or during leisure activities, can cause damage to the hair cells in the inner ear.
- Ear infections in the middle or inner ear can cause hearing loss, especially if left untreated.
- Certain genetic mutations can also cause hearing loss, either at birth or later in life.
- Some medications (Ototoxic), such as certain antibiotics and chemotherapy drugs can cause hearing loss as a side effect.
- Trauma to the head or ear can cause either temporary or permanent hearing loss.
- Ménière’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that can cause vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing loss.
- Tumours (Acoustic neuroma) that affect the auditory nerve or the structures of the inner ear can also cause hearing loss.
To best treat hearing loss, it’s vital to find the root cause. For instance, if noise-induced hearing loss is the culprit, wearing ear protection and avoiding loud noises should be enough to avoid additional damage. Alternatively, if age-related hearing loss is the underlying condition then utilising a device like a hearing aid will likely improve auditory processing.
Tinnitus Symptoms And Causes
Are you struggling with a persistent ringing, buzzing or humming sound in your ears? If yes, then you might have tinnitus. This auditory condition can affect one or both of your ears and disturb the quality of sleep along with trouble concentrating and even depression.
Tinnitus could be triggered by a range of sources, including prolonged exposure to loud noise levels, advanced age-related hearing loss, ear infections and specific medications. It might also indicate the presence of an underlying medical condition such as hypertension or thyroid issues.
How Can Hearing Aids Help?
Hearing aids come in all shapes and sizes, from discreet devices to large behind-the-ear models. The most suitable choice will depend on the severity of hearing loss as well as your lifestyle. Generally speaking, hearing aids amplify sound waves so that they can be heard more clearly by the wearer. This helps improve interaction with others and reduces strain in conversations.
Modern hearing aids are also equipped with additional features such as noise-cancelling systems, directional microphones and Bluetooth connectivity to smartphones and other audio devices while some models are even rechargeable. Some of the more common hearing aid types include:
- Behind-the-ear (BTE): Connected to a soft rubber ear mould, these small hearing aids fit inside the outer ear of patients with mild and more severe hearing loss
- In-the-ear (ITE): Fits inside the outer ear and are used for mild to severe hearing loss
- Canal Aids – Fits into the ear canal and are available as either in-the-canal (ITC) or completely-in-canal (CIC). Both of these devices are used for mild to moderately severe hearing loss.
Do Hearing Aids Work For Everyone?
As much as hearing aid technology has advanced, they may not help everyone and they do not work for those with sensorineural hearing loss. If you’re unsure whether hearing aids are right for you, we strongly recommend visiting an audiologist to get tested with a state-of-the-art audiometric machine. The results of this test will determine if the use of a hearing aid is beneficial and necessary for your needs.
How MediFin’s Hearing Finance Can Help
While there is no standard hearing aid prices in South Africa, these life-changing devices can range anywhere from R5 000 to R60 000 each, excluding the batteries, maintenance and other associated costs. As a result, not everyone with hearing problems can afford hearing tests or hearing aids. This poses a great risk as seeking treatment at a later stage could result in further damage.
Hearing aids are also generally not covered by medical aid in South Africa which means people are looking for alternative options may end up paying a lot more or not getting the medical treatment they deserve. Thanks to MediFin’s affordable hearing loss finance, patients can get access to hearing tests and quality hearing technology with easy, flexible payment options.
Whether you need hearing finance for cochlear implants, hearing aids, audiology appointments or videonystagmography (VNG), MediFin can help. You can apply online in a few easy steps!