Loud and Clear

Hearing aid upgrade vastly improves quality of life.

The war in Vietnam and Southeast Asia was just beginning to heat up when Jim Knowles graduated from dental school at the University of Michigan 50-some years ago, so to avoid being drafted into the Army, Jim joined the Air Force instead.

Photo by Jordan Pysz.

New hearing aids have corrected Jim’s high-pitch hearing loss.

What followed was a 30-year career of service to his country as a member of the Air Force Dental Corps for which he twice provided dental care to soldiers overseas – first in Turkey in the 1970s and again in England in the 1980s.

“I practiced dentistry just like any civilian dentist would have,” Jim says. “My first year in the Air Force was actually spent doing a dental internship, and after that I practiced general dentistry.”

Jim moved 11 times during his military career. He eventually settled in Florida, where he and his wife have become active in their local church, and Jim plays golf as often as he can.

For the past several years, though, Jim’s ability to fully engage in some activities has been hampered by a medical issue that, in part, is a byproduct of the 75-year-old’s tenure practicing dentistry in the military.

“I have a high-pitch hearing loss,” Jim reveals. “I can’t hear anything in the higher ranges like the doorbell or the phone ringing. I think some of it might come from the fact that early on we didn’t wear ear plugs or anything like that when we were working.

“As a dentist, I was constantly exposed to the sound of that high-speed drill we used, so I think that might have something to do with it. I’m sure old age has something to do with it, too, but either way, I’ve been wearing hearing aids for about five or six years now.”

Active Couple

For as long as he’s been wearing hearing aids, Jim has been under the care of Melanee Bryans, LHAS, at Miracle-Ear®, which has offices in Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach, Orange City and Palm Coast.

“Jim is very active,” Melanee states. “He and his wife are not the kind of people who just sit around at home all day. They’re very busy, and we have had to take that into consideration when fitting Jim with hearing aids.

“The other issue we need to take into consideration is his difficulty hearing anything in the higher frequencies. That can be dangerous because those people tend to have difficulty hearing more than just the doorbell, the phone or the ding on the microwave oven.

“When you have a hearing loss in the higher frequencies, you can be driving and not hear the siren of an emergency vehicle coming up behind you. You may also have difficulty hearing women and children because their voices tend to fall in that range. And that difficulty hearing women and children can be greatly accentuated in a noisy environment such as a restaurant or at a group or family gathering, because all that noise around you just smothers those higher frequencies.”

The ability to clearly hear his wife speak was one of the difficulties that sent Jim in search of hearing aids in the first place. To address that problem, Melanee initially fit him with a pair of hearing aids designed to improve his hearing clarity.

As time has passed, however, Jim’s hearing difficulties increased and his needs changed. As a result, Melanee recently recommended a change of hearing aids, suggesting Jim move into a state-of-the-art model offering the latest technology.

Jim accepted Melanee’s recommendation and is now wearing a pair of ME 5500 series hearing aids, which feature a series of advancements that provide him with vastly improved hearing in all types of environments.

Direct Streaming

Those advancements include stronger noise reduction and speech recognition as well as a direct streaming feature that allows sounds generated by an external electronic source such as a TV, radio or telephone to be heard directly through the hearing device.

“With direct streaming, you’re not losing any of the sounds you’re trying to focus on because of the ambient noise that’s around you,” Melanee describes. “That’s a feature that is proving to be very popular, especially with people who watch a lot of TV.

“If you’re sitting at home watching television with your spouse, for example, you can stream the TV directly into the hearing aid. That allows you to hear the TV clearly while your spouse can enjoy it as well, but at a level that is comfortable for him or her.

“You can carry on conversations with others while streaming as well, and it allows the wearer to be hands free whenever he or she is on the telephone. That’s a big advantage because people don’t need to have the phone in their hand to have a conversation on it.”

The ease with which Jim can now carry on a phone conversation or hear the TV are two of the technological improvements he appreciates most about the ME 5500.

“Melanee ran through all the improvements that have been made in these hearing aids, and it just made good sense for me to get them,” Jim says. “She didn’t push me into them at all. It was simply a suggestion, and I’m really glad she made it.

“These hearing aids have definitely improved my quality of life, because I’m hearing everything much clearer and crisper now. For example, I used to not be able to hear the turn signal in my car when I turned it on, but now I can hear it loud and clear.

“What I really like, though, is that I can stream the TV into my hearing aids. That means I can still watch and listen to the TV while my wife is reading a book or something because the sound on the TV can actually be turned down or off, yet I can still hear it.

“That’s a nice thing to be able to do, so I’m really thankful that Melanee suggested I get these hearing aids. She’s so knowledgeable, professional and easy to talk to. She’s a great person, and I really like that it’s not totally business with her.

“She treats you like a friend, which is why I definitely recommend her and Miracle-Ear to anybody.”

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