The Lyric from Phonak is a completely unique hearing device, there is just no other hearing aid like it. It is worn twenty-four hours a day for months at a time. It is fitted by your hearing care professional and you wear it continuously until it is replaced a couple of months later. I have some experience with the Lyric having been fitted with the Lyric in Dublin by Dave Kane of Audi-Lab. I enjoyed wearing the devices and I did a lot better with them than I expected. I can truly see why some people absolutely love them. While at the Sonova Global Media Day recently, Phonak released the results of a study into the treatment of tinnitus with Lyric, it was very interesting reading. It also begs a question about Lyric, and its effect on cognitive decline. First, let's talk Lyric and tinnitus.
Tinnitus, Sometimes More Than an Irritation
Tinnitus is the perception of sound that has no external source, it usually presents as such as ringing, hissing, buzzing or clicking. Tinnitus is not a disease in of itself, it is a symptom of an underlying condition. More often than not, that condition is age-related hearing loss. Although, it can be caused by ear injury or a circulatory system disorder. For many people, the sound is constant or near-constant. For some, the sound is intrusive and has a detrimental effect on their life and outlook. This means they may have trouble concentrating, sleep disturbances, or feelings of frustration, anxiety, or depression 24 hours a day every single day.
No Cure, Just Treatment
There is no cure for or drug to treat, tinnitus, however, the use of hearing aids in appropriate cases has proven effective. Traditional hearing aids are generally only worn during waking hours, so perhaps up to sixteen hours a day. The issue here is that tinnitus is a 24/7 affliction. People with intrusive tinnitus need a 24/7 solution, and that’s what Phonak Lyric delivers.
Phonak Lyric: One of a kind
As I said, Lyric really is one of a kind, it is the only hearing aid on the market designed to be worn 24 hours a day for months at a time. This use pattern makes it a valid choice for a tinnitus management program. Phonak say "Its unique ability to provide 24/7 consistent amplification has been proven to relieve tinnitus faster and improve sleep quality by a greater degree than when compared to a daily wear hearing aids." To be honest, that makes perfect sense, if we are stimulating your hearing system all day long, well then your perception of tinnitus should be non-existent.
All Day Long, For Months?
Yup, you heard it right, Lyric is an extended-wear, deep fit hearing aid (EWHA). It is placed deep in your ear canal without the need for surgery or anesthesia.It is a tiny device and the outer layer of soft foam material easily adapts to the contours of your ear canal. Phonak have engineered the devices to withstand the challenging conditions within the ear canal for months.
A 2016 study (1) that compared the efficacy of Lyric to conventional receiver-in-the-canal hearing aids (HA) and the same hearing aids with a sound generator (HA1SG) based on the Tinnitus Functional Index (TFI) - the global standard for measuring the impact of tinnitus - found Lyric alleviated tinnitus symptoms faster than the other options.
Lyric improved the reaction to tinnitus by at least a 13-point reduction in the TFI score in 82 percent of the participants. That was higher than the 67 percent of participants who used daily wear hearing aids, and the 79 percent who wore daily wear hearing aids with noise generators.
The average improvement in the TFI score for Lyric was 31 points compared to 21 points for the daily wear group and 33 points for the daily wear plus noise generator.
A separate study (2) that examined the long-term benefits of the Lyric hearing aid compared to daily wear hearing aids showed Lyric provided a greater reduction in tinnitus severity after one month compared to the daily wear group which was both clinically and statistically significant.
It took three months for users with the daily wear hearing aids to also show a clinically significant reduction in TFI scores. The Lyric group also displayed a greater reduction in sleep disturbance, indicating Lyric can improve sleep quality for people with tinnitus.
The results speak for themselves, and they make sense within the context of the devices. As I said, if your auditory system is being stimulated 24/7, it should mean in-depth relief of tinnitus. The finidngs also beg some more questions, for instance, we know that amplification has a beneficial effect on cognitive decline. Would a 24/7 device which stimulates the auditory system have a more enhanced effect? That's one for the researchers I think.
Like us on Facebook by clicking the button below to keep up with the latest news and views.
1. Henry J et al, 2016 ,Randomized Controlled Trial: Extended-Wear vs. Conventional vs. Combination Hearing
Devices for Tinnitus, JAm Acad Audiol 00:1-16
2. D,Power et al, Lyric an effective option for Tinnitus: Investigating the benefits of a hearing aid that can be
worn 24/7 Internal Report Peer reviewed Journal publication expected 2019