Hearing aids have advanced dramatically, even in just the last couple of years.
They’re high-tech, tiny and discreet, easy-to-use, and perform far better than ever before.
The truth is, modern digital hearing aids are as sleek, innovative and leading-edge as any consumer electronic device—just better–because they can be fitted and programmed by a Doctor of Audiology for your individual hearing and lifestyle needs.
Involvement by a Doctor of Audiology means you get maximum benefit from the latest in hearing aid technologies. Plus, you get personal coaching and follow-up visits that are invaluable in helping you make the most of your hearing aids.
Most people want to know what to look for in hearing aids so they can hear better in certain everyday situations. So we’ve gone ahead and identified several hearing aid technologies and features that are designed to help you hear more easily in real-life.
- One-on-one, face-to-face conversations: Most people who use hearing aids are very happy with the improvement they see in their ability to hear in one-on-one or small group conversations. You’d be surprised to find how even the most basic hearing aids can help you in these settings. Feedback cancellation technology, which is a very common feature, helps ensure that there’s no unwanted squealing from your hearing aids when the conversation gets really close.
- Business meetings: Catching everything that is being said around the conference room table and over the speaker phone can be challenging even for those with normal hearing. Directional microphones with highly focused directionality help you zoom in on the person you want to hear, even while others are talking. And sleek, wireless mini-microphones—some even looking like a pen or integrated into your smart phone as an app—can be placed on the conference room table to offer an additional listening boost. These accessories wirelessly amplify the speaker’s voice directly into your hearing aids.
- Watching television: Watching a good TV show or movie should be a great way to unwind and spend some low-key together time with your spouse or family. The problem is, untreated hearing loss makes it hard to hear, especially when the volume of the program itself is constantly fluctuating. Wireless streaming, including Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids, offer a solution. They let you feed crystal-clear sound directly from the TV into your hearing aids at volumes just right for you—and nobody else in the room knows when you’re turning the volume up or down. Friends and family can control the TV remote according to their own needs. Streaming works with stereos and other home entertainment systems as well. Automatic volume control even allows your hearing aids to adjust the sound level for you, which is a real asset, especially when watching “action” movies.
- In the car: When driving, you want to be able to hear all the passengers no matter where they’re seated. Binaural wireless hearing aids (that is, a wireless hearing aid for each ear) provide the answer. Hearing aids with adaptive directional microphones also can help. This technology lets you decipher speech from any direction. Importantly, noise reduction technologies allow you to hear speech even through the sounds of the surrounding traffic.
- Around the dinner table: Few things are as isolating as being surrounded by family and the people you love and not being part of the conversation. But hearing aids allow you to pick up on the conversation without a lot of effort. Highly focused directional microphones help you zoom in on whoever is telling a great story. Just as in business meetings, wireless mini-microphones placed on the dining table help bridge the gap between you and those at the further end of the room by amplifying the speakers’ voices directly into your hearing aids. Some microphones can even be clipped to the speaker’s lapel or worn around their neck.
- On the phone: Digital wireless hearing aids mean you can stream sound directly from your smartphone into your hearing aids without ever having to put the phone to your ear. This advanced-but-now-common technology allows for clearer, crisper sound. You control the volume with your phone. This means you can hear and understand phone conversations with less effort. For landlines, an older but very beneficial technology known as telecoils allows your hearing aids to pick up the signal directly from your telephone. The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) provides useful information on purchasing cell phones that work best with hearing aids.
- In restaurants, coffee shops and other noisy settings: Public places where people meet to talk can be especially hard for those with difficulty hearing. But advancements in digital hearing aids have made it easier to hear conversation in these settings. Directional microphones let you zoom in on the conversation, and noise reduction technologies help filter out background clatter and chatter. Accessories like mini-microphones, set on the table or clipped to your companion’s collar, can provide an added audio boost and clarity by wirelessly streaming your friend’s voice directly into your hearing aids. And don’t forget that these mini-microphones can even come in the form of an app downloaded onto your smart phone
- At musical performances and in movie theaters: When you’re at a concert or other musical event, you want to hear the richness and quality of the music. Fortunately, even the most basic hearing aids provide listening ease by eliminating the distortion that could occur with louder sounds—while ensuring the clarity of softer sounds. Automatic volume control also comes in handy, especially at the movies where the loudness of films constantly changes. Many performing arts centers and an increasing number of cinemas are now equipped with hearing loops that work in conjunction with hearing aid telecoils—so the source of the sound streams directly into your hearing aids.
- At church, synagogue and other places of worship: Even just basic hearing aid technology helps decrease listening effort by amplifying the sounds of interest. At the same time, automatic volume control manages changes in the loudness of the various sounds during service—like the sermon, or organ music, or choir. An increasing number of churches are now equipped with hearing loops. Working in conjunction with hearing aid telecoils, hearing loops stream the speaker’s voice directly into your hearing aids, making it easier to decipher speech when you’re sitting or standing far from the speaker.
- Enjoying the outdoors: Digital wind noise detection and reduction technology is just what you need when you want to enjoy the outdoors on a breezy day. And highly advanced noise reduction technology helps dim background noise when you’re enjoying louder outdoor activities.
- Quelling that ringing in the ears (tinnitus): Tinnitus is most often the result of noise exposure, and is almost always accompanied by hearing loss. Luckily, research shows that hearing aids alone often reduce the annoyance associated with tinnitus for most people. Not only do they help improve hearing and communication, but they also help reduce the prominence of that ringing in the ears by amplifying background sound. Just taking the focus off the tinnitus can provide relief for many people. What’s more, hearing aids reduce the stress associated with intensive listening, which alone can help relieve tinnitus symptoms. Many modern digital hearing aids now include integrated “sound therapy,” giving people even greater relief.