Hearing Instrument Technologies for Easier Living
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Hearing Instrument Technologies for Easier Living
Posted by William A. Kent, BC-HIS on November 30, 2016
Hearing instruments 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. In fact, a national survey showed that the vast majority of people who purchased hearing Instruments in the last year are glad they did (91%). They would even recommend getting hearing instruments to family members and friends (90%). The truth is, modern digital hearing instruments are as sleek, innovative and leading-edge as any consumer electronic device, just better, because they’re fitted and programmed by a hearing healthcare professional for individual hearing and lifestyle needs. Involvement by a hearing healthcare professional means you get maximum benefit from the latest in hearing instrument technologies. Plus, you get personal coaching and follow-up visits that are invaluable in helping you make the most of your hearing instruments. So go ahead. Take that next step toward better hearing. Learn about the newest generation of hearing aids, and reconnect to the day-to-day joys of living. Don’t miss another one of life’s singular moment.
What you need to know about today’s hearing instruments:
Most people want to know what to look for in hearing instruments so they can hear better in certain everyday situations. So we’ve gone ahead and identified several hearing instrument technologies, and features, that are designed to help you hear more easily in real-life. Keep in mind, a license hearing healthcare professional, that is, a hearing instrument specialist or audiologist, is best suited to help you identify the right hearing instrument for your particular hearing needs and lifestyle. Be sure to ask your hearing healthcare professional about the features described below if you have trouble hearing in these listening situations.
- One-on-one, face-to-face conversations:
Most people who use hearing instruments 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 instruments can help you in these settings. Feedback cancellation technology helps ensure that there’s no unwanted squealing from your hearing instruments 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 instruments.
- Watching television:
Watching a good TV show or movie is a good 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 instruments, offers a solution; they let you feed crystal-clear sound directly from the TV into your hearing instruments 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 instruments 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’ voice 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 instruments mean you can stream sound directly from your smart phone into your hearing instruments without ever having to put the phone to your ear. This advanced, but now common, technology allows for clearer, crisp 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 instruments to pick up the signal directly from your telephone.
- 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 instruments 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 instruments. 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 instruments 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 the hearing instrument telecoils, so the source of the sound streams directly into your hearing instruments.
- 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 this service – like the sermon, organ music, or choir. An increasing number of churches are now equipped with hearing loops. Working in conjunction with hearing instrument telecoils, hearing loops stream the speaker’s voice directly into your hearing instruments, 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; it is almost always accompanied by hearing loss. Luckily, research shows that hearing instruments 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 instruments reduce the stress associated with intensive listening. That alone can help relieve tinnitus symptoms. Some advanced digital hearing instruments now include integrated “sound therapy or tinnitus maskers” giving people even greater relief.
With technology that is available today, it is no wonder why people who are wearing them are more comfortable and satisfied with their instruments than ever before. If you, or someone you know has difficulty in communicating with others, or you suspect they are struggling with everyday conversation, reach out and explain to them that wearing hearing instruments is no big thing, and that a hearing test is the first thing to be considered. With most health insurance coverage, hearing tests are covered with little or no out of pocket expense. Life is short, and we should all strive to enjoy it to our fullest capacity. Have your hearing tested, and make sure you are, ‘living it to the fullest.’ You, your family and your friends deserve it.