Synopsis: Questions and answers regarding deafness, hearing loss, and the hearing aid market from Adroit Market Research.
"A 5-year-old boy was referred to an Audiologist because he did not pass a kindergarten screening test in his right ear. His parents reported that he said "Huh?" frequently, while, recently they noticed him turning his head when spoken to. The boy had passed his newborn hearing screening and had experienced a few ear infections that had responded well to antibiotics. Several tests were carried out after which he was diagnosed with unilateral hearing loss."
A person who is not able to hear as well as someone with normal hearing having a threshold of 25 dB or better in both ears, is said to have hearing loss. The condition can be mild, moderate, severe or even profound affecting one or both the ears. The World Health Organization (WHO) 2018 survey estimates that over 5% of the world's population - 466 million - have a disabling hearing loss of which 34 million are children.
Exclusion from communication due to loss of hearing has a significant impact on an individual's life hampering development, education, employment, cognition, economic and psychological well-being. In developing countries, children with hearing impairment rarely receive any schooling while adults have a much higher unemployment rate. Among those who are employed, a major proportion is in lower grades of employment as compared with the general workforce.
Providing audibility for a wide range of input levels from a broad frequency is the aim of any hearing aid fitting. The hearing aid technology has transformed greatly over the past few decades, but the basic elements of any hearing aid remain the same including a microphone, a processor, a receiver and a power source. The hearing aid technology is considered basic or advanced, based on the type of the processor used. Some manual adjustments are to be made in certain situations while using basic hearing aid technology. Advanced aids offer greater benefits that translate to higher price points for hearing aids. The digital signal processing has brought considerable advances in the hearing health improving sound clarity, speech intelligibility, and noise reduction while connecting wirelessly to cell phones, TVs and MP3 players. Most importantly they can be custom programmed to fine tune the personal hearing needs. These technologies offer a wide range of features including digital signal processing, automatic gain control, impulse noise reduction, listening memory, directional microphone, adaptive feedback cancellation, binaural processing, and wireless connectivity.
infographic showing the timeline of hearing aids from conception to today.
People who need hearing aid vary extensively in their personal styles and expectations. Some are technological fanatics, others are value conscious, some are self-directed and others look for personal service. These different needs lead them to different types of providers, from different audiologists to large chain store networks. The renowned players in the global hearing aid market include Sonova, William Demant, GN Store Nord, Cochlear, Starkey, Widex, SeboTek Hearing Instruments, Microson, and others. Vendors are focusing on new product launches through technological advancements, as well as, mergers & acquisitions to lead the market position. The emergence of 3D printing has enabled the construction of tailored hearing aids perfectly matching the defective ear canals. Additionally, companies are focusing on providing advanced hearing aid devices with a lithium-ion battery for self-sustainment.
In developing countries, the preventable medical conditions are often the major causes for loss of hearing, especially infections such as rubella or syphilis. According to the WHO, over one-third of people over 65 years of age globally have disabling hearing loss. The prevalence of this ailment is highest in South Asia, Asia Pacific, and Sub-Saharan Africa. Within these, Asia Pacific is expected to grow at the fastest pace in the foreseeable years due to a large patient pool, an upsurge in the aging population and increasing healthcare infrastructure. The demand for hearing aids is also expected to be substantial in the European market due to the mounting geriatric population.
At present, the global production of hearing aids meets less than 10% of the global need and less than 3% of a developing country's needs. Lack of availability of services for fitting and maintaining these devices, low awareness among people and lack of supply of batteries are the major barriers restraining the use of hearing aids. Unfortunately, most insurance providers also rarely cover the actual hearing aid, fitting and follow-up care. Furthermore, vendors accept payments only in the form of bulk cash, checks or credit cards like VISA and MasterCard, which results in a spike in the cost of recommended care and optimal hearing aid technology can put a financial strain on many patients. Thus, these aids are typically purchased only by patients who can financially support the purchase and its maintenance in the long run.
Giving patients a way to pay conveniently in the form of low-cost monthly installments or government subsidized rates can be an ideal solution for people to opt for hearing aids. Additionally, increasing conferences and symposiums will help create awareness about the product and the latest technologies in hearing aids.
Source: Adroit Market Research (https://adroitmarketresearch.com/industry-reports/hearing-aids-market)
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