A CARER who suffered from bad hearing for decades has told how new technology helped him to save his wife’s life.

Charles Carmichael was fitted with a revolutionary hearing aid just weeks before his diabetic wife Eileen collapsed at their home in Newton Mearns, near Glasgow.

The 64-year-old, who suffers from Chronic Suppurative Otitis Media (CSOM), also known as runny ears, was able to use the specialist equipment – known as a Baha – to listen to her breathing and talk to the 999 operator.

He initially feared his wife, who has suffered a heart attack and stroke in recent years, was suffering another stroke, but was able to use a microphone linked to his Baha to help deal with the emergency.

“I call it a lifesaver, it is a huge leap forward,” he said. “Her breathing was so faint, but because of the mike, I was able to hear her voice through my Baha and answer the responder’s questions.”

Mrs Carmichael was not having a stroke, but had a severe chest infection which has since caused her a lot of health problems.

Mr Carmichael is her main carer and the equipment now allows him to hear her clearly even when in another room.

His wife said: “If anything happens and I need to raise the alarm, he can immediately hear me – I feel safer.”

Since he was a boy, Mr Carmichael struggled with his hearing and had recurrent ear infections.

It was not until he was in his late 40s that he was finally fitted with analogue hearing aids.

Up until that point, he had got by at home and at work – as a health and safety officer for special needs charity Key Community Supports – by lip-reading. However, the hearing aids contributed to the ear infections and within a few years he began to suffer continual runny ears.

“It would literally pour down the side of my face,” he said. “I couldn’t sleep properly because as soon as I lay down my pillow was wet.

“It was like having a really bad cold with a runny nose, but it was my ears instead.”

The skin around his ears became sore from lying on damp patches and he had to attend clinics every fortnight to have his ears syringed and cleaned.

The condition affected his balance and also meant he was left out of conversations with work colleagues, friends and family because he could not hear.

He said: “I felt so insecure and embarrassed as I thought the first thing people looked at when they saw me was my runny ears.

“I could get by in small groups, but at large meetings, I often asked questions that had already been asked.”

Help finally came when he was sent to see an audiologist at The New Victoria Hospital in Glasgow who recommended he be fitted with a Baha, which transfers sound by bone vibration directly to the cochlea, bypassing the outer and the middle ear where the infection lay. “It was like a light switch being flicked on,” said Mr Carmichael.

“I could focus on work because I could hear better and my confidence levels improved.

“And, importantly, my family could talk to me again. It was so good to hear their conversations.”

He can now hear others clearly when in the same room as them and uses the special microphone to hear his wife when he is in another room.

A Healthy Ears campaign to raise awareness of CSOM launched earlier this week.

l Anyone looking for more information should visit www.Iwanttohear.com.