'I can now hear most sounds'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 November, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 November, 2008, 12:00am

Wong Po-ling, a 56-year-old who has had an implantable hearing device in her right ear since June, was all smiles as she listed its merits.

'I can now hear most sounds at work and during day-to-day activities,' Ms Wong, who works as a supermarket cashier, said.

'It's most obvious when I watch TV. In the past I had to blast up the volume, but now I'm able to hear even when I turn the volume way down.'

Ms Wong was diagnosed with bilateral chronic suppurative otitus media (CSOM) - a recurring infection of the middle ear - when she was in her 20s, and lost her hearing in both ears.

'I have endured countless ear drum operations,' she said. 'Whenever I put on my old hearing aids, my infections would flare up again. It was very painful.'

Her condition deteriorated so much that doctors tried to dissuade her from undergoing any more ear drum operations, thinking it was fruitless.

Now, she said her hearing was so good that she could hear whispers.

It was, perhaps, a bit too good. When it was very quiet, Ms Wong said, she could hear the rustling of her hair as she moved her head. 'If I clip up my hair, it's a lot better,' she said.

Chinese University ear, nose and throat professor Michael Tong Chi-fai said 2 per cent of Hongkongers would develop CSOM.

Another user of the new device, a 34-year-old businessman, said he was very satisfied with it. He was diagnosed with sensorineural hearing loss, a condition prevalent among the elderly and affecting close to 700,000 people locally, and suffered severe hearing impairment.