Our Article Published in the Sydney Morning Herald - 3 March 2019

Of all the wear and tear that comes with age, one of the hardest changes to confront is hearing loss. It happens gradually and is easy to ignore.

“On average, it takes people between seven and 10 years to seek assistance after they start to feel their hearing might be affected,” says Deborah Pallett, audiologist and co-founder of Sydney specialist clinic Hearing Innovations.

“Either they aren’t certain or they just don’t want to face it.”

Young people, too, have a tough time accepting their hearing could be compromised. Usually, it’s the all-tooaudible complaints from family that prompt a check-up.

“Even then, people come in worried, with preconceptions of what hearing loss will mean for them,” says Pallett.

However, hearing aid technology has come a long way.

“It has always been about improving quality of life, but now for some it’s also about integrating a good cosmetic outcome with an unrestricted lifestyle,” says Pallett.

Combining quality of life with ease of use is front and centre of the work being undertaken by Swiss company Phonak, with the development of Lyric hearing aid technology.

Considered ‘‘invisible’’, Lyric aids sit inside the ear canal and provide a discreet boost to hearing day and night.

“A lot of our patients who come in feeling uncertain are amazed by the Lyric,” Pallett says.

‘‘Audiologists at Hearing Innovations assess a patient’s suitability for the Lyric aid in a process that measures ear geometry and the amount of ear wax produced. We insert the Lyric in the ear canal four millimetres from the eardrum.

‘‘Where traditional hearing aids capture and process sound outside the ear, the Lyric uses the anatomy of the ear to amplify and give a full, clear, natural listening experience and when fitted correctly, it’s amazing.’’

The result is described by Hearing Innovations patient Lydia, 57, as “transformative’’.

‘‘Sound was suddenly so crisp and clear. I was so worried about what I thought correcting hearing loss would mean, but it has transformed my life.”

Pallett and Robin Laing co-founded Hearing Innovations 20 years ago to provide a holistic approach to audiology. It has grown into a community practice and, for Pallett, a family one.

“My daughter Isabelle works alongside me as an audiologist,” she says. “We are well known in Sydney’s eastern suburbs.’’

Laing says finding the right audiologist is essential. In most cases, natural hearing loss doesn’t improve over time so it’s important patients seek a professional relationship.

“That way, we can really understand someone’s history and provide the right management,” she says.

The Lyric is particularly effective for dementia patients, she says, as there’s no battery to change.

“Patients come in to get the device refitted after three months, but other than that it’s set and forget,” she says. “You don’t have to take it out to shower or to go to sleep.”

A range of next-generation hearing devices have a rechargeable battery and Bluetooth connectivity to mobile phones.

“When a patient isn’t suitable for the Lyric there are often many other options,” Pallett says.

With day-to-day sound bombardment, and with use of wireless ear pods on the rise, it’s more important than ever to be mindful of our hearing.

“Whether you’re young or old, if you’re having difficulty hearing in background noise or experience tinnitus, it’s advisable to get your hearing checked,” Pallett says. “The sooner you act, the sooner you can improve the quality of your life.”

A lot of our patients who come in feeling uncertain are amazed by the Lyric.

Deborah Pallett

John Paul Wager