Hearing aids have improved in the recent years in their technology. But there’s so much to keep track, one can’t catch up with it all. Should you invest in the newer technology or stay where you’re at right now? We’ll help answer those questions.
It’s true that today’s hearing aids are designed to provide greater comfort, versatility and power than ever before. Even those who were not pleased with hearing aids in the past may now find that they can enjoy improved sound and clarity with the newer technology. One of the best things about current hearing aid technology is that there are so many options to fit each individual’s hearing loss, lifestyle and budget.
“Open Fit” hearing aids (also called “Receiver-in-canal” or “RIC” aids) have become increasingly popular in recent years, not only because they are nearly invisible when worn, but also because they are typically very comfortable to wear and can often provide more natural sound quality than conventional aids. With open fit style hearing aids, the microphone sits on top of the ear, and sound is fed through a thin tube that goes into the ear canal. With this design, low frequency sounds can still pass through to the ear normally, while high frequency sounds can be amplified by the hearing device.
Gone are the days when hearing aids could only be “On” or “Off”. Many of today’s devices feature very sensitive microphones that can be manually adjusted or automatically focus on the sounds you want to hear, rather than background noise. For example, if a wearer is in a noisy room trying to have a conversation with someone, they can choose to have their hearing aids pick up sound coming from in front of them while reducing background noise.
You’ve heard about Bluetooth headsets that work with cellphones, but did you know that many hearing aids also offer Bluetooth connectivity? Bluetooth provides wireless sound transmission, and having this feature in a hearing aid allows the wearer to connect hands-free with devices such as cellphones, iPods, tablets, and computers. For example, with Bluetooth technology, an individual can hear their cellphone ring directly in their hearing aids, and the call can be answered by pushing a button on a small controller. Not only does this allow for hands-free connection to the cellphone, the wearer also benefits from additional volume provided by the hearing aids, and binaural hearing on the phone, which can greatly improve speech understanding.
Remote microphones can be paired with many of the newer hearing aids and are designed to improve speech recognition in noisy environments or when the speaker is located some distance from the listener. For example, in a noisy restaurant, the remote microphone can be worn by the speaker across the table, and their voice will be sent directly to the ears of the hearing aid wearer, reducing interference from background noise and making it easier to understand speech. Remote microphones are wireless and can be used with devices such as televisions to improve audibility while reducing the volume of other noises in the room that make hearing the television difficult.
Hearing aids have definitely come a long way, and they are able to help more people, in more ways than they have in the past.