How Modern Hearing Aids Can Save Your Holiday Season

Holiday Hearing

Dealing with hearing loss throughout the holiday season can be particularly difficult.

While you may honestly prefer to NOT hear some of your family members, the discussions you do want to participate in can be stressful. And because most large holiday events tend to be loud, it can be nearly impossible to concentrate on any one person or dialogue.

In order to participate in conversation, you have to cope with background music, people talking simultaneously around the table, and the Thanksgiving football game blasting in the background. This creates an impossible scenario that can make you feel isolated and excluded.

Short of making everyone repeat themselves or staying silent, what are your choices?

Truthfully, 10 years ago you didn’t have many. The older analog hearing aids could amplify speech—the problem was that they also amplified everything else, including background noise. Since all sound was just made to be louder, it didn’t help much with understanding the people you were talking to.

But hearing aids have changed, and for the better. Specifically, modern-day hearing aids have two functions that can save your holiday season: background noise reduction and speech focus.

Background noise suppression

Earlier analog hearing aid models were in reality very simple gadgets. They consisted of a microphone, an amplifier, and a speaker. Sound was collected by the microphone, amplified, and sent through the speaker to the ear.

The issue was, however, that the hearing aid couldn’t differentiate between voices and background sound. The amplifier made all sounds louder, so unless you were in a quiet setting, you had a challenging time hearing voices.

Because holiday parties are anything but quiet, what you really require is a hearing aid that can distinguish between sounds—which is exactly what contemporary digital hearing aids can do.

Digital hearing aids, along with containing a microphone, amplifier, and speaker, also include a digital processor. As a result, sound can be translated into digital information that the hearing aid can make use of to distinguish between different kinds of sounds.

By differentiating and marking different types of sounds, today’s hearing aids can be programmed to amplify only sounds with special attributes, such as all of the frequencies you have difficulty hearing. Background sounds, in contrast, can be easily recognized and silenced.

Speech focus

Along with suppressing background sound, modern hearing aids can also recognize and concentrate on speech.

Speech has a distinctive property in that it is made up of principally of high-frequency sounds. This makes it easy for the digital processor to differentiate between speaking and background noise, which is principally low frequency.

On top of it, digital hearing aids have what are called directional microphones, which can locate the direction of sound. Some hearing aid models can even focus the microphones in specific directions, such as the direction of the person you’re conversing with.

Schedule Your Hearing Test and Make the Most Of the Holidays Again

Are you ready to reclaim your holiday season?

Contact us today and we’ll show you how to select among the extraordinary digital hearing aid technology available to you. Then, with your new hearing aids—equipped with background noise suppression and speech focus—you’ll be able to hear all of the conversations with comfort and clarity.

As for the relatives you don’t want to hear? Not to worry, the hearing aids also come equipped with an off button.

Do I Need Two Hearing Aids or One

Hearing Aids

Are two hearing aids better than one?

If you’re searching for the short answer, then yes, most instances of hearing loss are most effectively managed with two hearing aids.

If you want to learn why, or are interested about the reasons why we have two ears in the first place, then keep on reading.

The Benefits of Stereoscopic Vision

Let’s begin with eyesight.

When we look at an image, each eye is provided with a slightly different version of that image. Our brains then evaluate the differences between the two copies to yield the perception of depth. This added dimension of depth—along with height and width—helps us to experience the world in three dimensions.

If we had only one eye, our capacity to perceive depth and distance would be immensely compromised.

The benefits of Binaural Hearing (Hearing with Two Ears)

The same phenomenon applies to our ears and our hearing. Even though we might not think about it, when we hear a sound, we can typically judge both its distance and its location, in addition to its volume.

Each ear receives a slightly different copy of each sound, and those differences are translated by the brain in a way that reveals location and distance. This allows us to hear in three dimensions, so that we know how far away and which direction sound is coming from.

In combination with being able to evaluate depth, distance, and location, having two ears also improves the quality of sound and enhances the spectrum of sounds you can hear.

To verify the concept of sound quality, the next time you’re listening to music in a vehicle, disable both left speakers and notice how unnatural it sounds.

The Benefits of Two Hearing Aids

If our eye doctor tells us that we have vision impairment in both eyes, we don’t seriously consider the merits of getting fitted with one lens.

So when our hearing specialist informs us that we have hearing loss in both ears, why do we need to be persuaded to get fitted with two hearing aids?

As we’ve seen, our ears collaborate so that our brains can best interpret the distance, location, volume, quality, and range of sound.

With the ability to pinpoint the precise location of sound from the use of two hearing aids, you’ll have the ability to:

  • focus on speech during a discussion even with heavy background noise.
  • identify distinct voices among many.
  • enhance the range of sounds heard by up to four times.
  • hear sounds without straining, which is less exhausting.
  • listen to sounds without the unnatural feeling of monaural hearing (hearing with one ear).
  • Avoid the deterioration of hearing in the non-fitted ear.

That final point is significant. If you have hearing loss in both ears but wear only one hearing aid, your hearing in the non-fitted ear can become worse as time passes. This will promptly limit your ability to achieve all of the benefits just explained.

If you believe that you have hearing loss, the initial step is to arrange a hearing exam with an experienced hearing professional. After your hearing is examined, your hearing specialist will share the results with you in a chart known as an audiogram.

The audiogram will reveal to you if you have hearing loss in one or both ears, but most cases of hearing loss are in both ears.

If this is the case, your hearing specialist will almost certainly highly recommend binaural hearing aids for both ears, and you’ll be offered the opportunity to trial them before you buy—which is a great chance to assess for yourself the difference two hearing aids will make.

4 Reasons to Upgrade Your Hearing Aids

Hearing Aids

When should I upgrade my hearing aids?

This is a frequent question we hear from our patients, and the answer requires some thought. Although hearing aids typically have a life-span of 3-7 years, there are several cases in which you may want to upgrade earlier.

Here are 4 reasons you may want to consider a hearing aid upgrade.

1. Your hearing aids are no longer functioning well

If your hearing aids are not functioning as well as they once did, the first thing to consider is cleaning or repair.

Hearing aids are exposed to earwax, humidity, and other debris, so your hearing aids may merely require a cleaning. Other times, the electronics within the hearing aids require repair, but otherwise the hearing aids remain effective.

If your hearing aids are compromised beyond repair, on the other hand, or if they are past their normal life-span, you may want to upgrade to a new set.

2. Your hearing requirements are not being met

Let’s say you obtain a new job that will require a lot of talking on the phone, which has consistently been a problem for you with your present hearing aids. You learn about a new brand of hearing aid that can stream phone calls wirelessly from your iPhone straight to your hearing aids, giving you clear sound that you can quickly adjust. In this scenario, you may want to upgrade your hearing aids to provide for your new hearing requirements.

It’s a great idea to create a list of all the instances in which your current hearing aids are not performing to your preference. Then, by consulting with a hearing specialist, you can find the hearing aids that can better satisfy your needs.

3. Your hearing has changed

Hearing can and does change throughout the years, and it’s a possibility that your present hearing aids, while initially sufficient, are now incapable of handling your hearing loss. If this is the situation, you will need a new hearing examination and a new set of hearing aids programmed to accommodate your hearing loss.

4. You want to make the most of new technology

Hearing aid technology is evolving quickly; just ten years ago it would have seemed like science fiction to believe that you could stream music wirelessly from your iPod to your hearing aids. Each year, extraordinary new functionality is added to new hearing aid models, and you may find that you’d like to reap the benefits of the new technology.

For example, perhaps you just purchased a new Apple Watch and you learned that a couple of the new hearing aid models are compatible. If you wish to control your hearing aids with the watch, you would need to upgrade to a compatible model.

The decision to upgrade your hearing aids in the end boils down to answering two questions:

  1. Are my current hearing aids meeting all of my listening requirements?
  2. Is there new technology or functionality that I would like to take advantage of?

Hearing aid technology is advancing rapidly, and most of our patients are surprised to discover what the new hearing aid models are capable of. And the fact is, you can’t really answer the second question without knowing what’s available to you.

If you would like to learn about what some of your options are, give us a call today and we’ll explain to you all the available technology and how it could make your life better and easier. You may be surprised at what you find.

10 Cool Ways to Control Your Hearing Aids With the Apple Watch

By Joho345 (Own work) [CC BY 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Picture being able to adjust the volume, treble, and bass on your hearing aids as discretely and easily as checking the time on your wrist. Or picture fine-tuning your hearing aids for any hearing situation without ever having to touch your hearing aids.

Sound too good to be true? A few years ago, it was; but with the Apple Watch, hearing aid users are redefining the way they interact with their hearing aids.

With Apple’s most personal device to date, you can now leave behind your hearing aid remote control at home, your cell phone in your pocket, and your fingers out of your ears. All hearing aid modifications and settings can be accessed from an application within the watch—meaning you’ll never have to touch your hearing aids or habitually fumble through your phone again.

Here are 10 cool things you can do with your Apple Watch and compatible hearing aids.

1. Abandon the hearing aid remote control

The dilemma with modern hearing aids is that as they come to be smaller, more powerful, and loaded with more features, they become harder to handle. This makes a remote control a must, but who wants to haul around yet another device?

Even using your cell phone as the remote control can get monotonous, but with the Apple Watch, if you want to adjust a setting, you just lift your wrist. It can’t get any easier than that.

2. Easily adjust the volume, treble, and bass

Need the hearing aid volume adjusted? No problem, just discreetly lift your wrist, tap the hearing aid app on the watch, and swipe your finger to adjust the volume control slider. You can also easily fine-tune the treble and bass to produce the perfect sound quality in any hearing scenario.

3. Mute your hearing aids

Scenarios occur when you don’t want to amplify sound, and with the Apple Watch, you can turn off the hearing aids with the push of a button.

Although we don’t recommend using this feature on your spouse.

4. Create and save custom sound settings

Having a conversation in a busy restaurant is very different than having one at home; that’s why hearing aids have what are called “environmental presets,” or settings that enhance sounds according to the environment.

With the Apple Watch, you can easily access and change between presets, modifying settings on the fly depending on where you are. And as you render your modifications, if there is a unique setting that works especially well, you can save the setting, label it, and access it at a later time.

5. Stream music and phone calls

You’re out for a run and you want to play your favorite album. That would generally call for you to remove your hearing aids, but with Apple Watch, you can stream music wirelessly from the watch to your hearing aids. In this regard, your hearing aids have the twin purpose of a sound amplification device and a set of high-quality earphones.

You can also effortlessly answer or forward phone calls straight from the watch, as the audio is directed wirelessly to your hearing aids just like the music.

6. Find your lost hearing aids

We all lose valuable things, like our car keys, and we waste a lot of time trying to find them. But when we lose our hearing aids, it’s not only inconvenient—we risk damaging the device that links us to sound, which can be scary.

Using the Apple Watch, if you lose your hearing aids, you can immediately track them down as the watch can pin point their specific location and render it on a map.

7. Concentrate on speech and filter background noise

Most digital hearing aids have directional microphones and other background-noise eliminating functions. With the Apple Watch, you have continuous access to these capabilities, with the ability to narrow the focus in a noisy room, for instance, by listening to the person you’re conversing with while blocking the background chatter.

8. View your battery and connection status

You no longer have to worry about running out of battery power and being stranded without audio. You can conveniently observe your hearing aid battery life directly on the Apple Watch.

9. Make your hearing aids invisible

You can’t actually make your hearing aids invisible with the Apple Watch, but with the appropriate hearing aid, it will look that way to the people around you. The Apple Watch, when combined with a completely-in-the-ear-canal hearing aid, will be completely out of view. And when you’re altering your hearing aid controls on your watch, people will think you’re checking the time.

10. Regulate your tinnitus

Sound therapy in the form of white noise, music, or nature sounds can be streamed wirelessly to your hearing aids, and the sounds can be altered to match the frequency of your tinnitus—all from the Apple Watch.

Tailor your hearing experience

While the Apple Watch is not compatible with every type of hearing aid, several hearing aid models currently are, and we anticipate additional models to be launched in the near future. The Apple Watch is the ultimate answer to many of the issues conveyed by our patients and enables a degree of interaction and control like never before.

Contact us today to find out more about this incredible technology.

Do you own an Apple Watch? Do you use it to control your hearing aids? Tell us about your experience in a comment.

How Insects are Revolutionizing Hearing Aids

Today’s hearing aids have come a long way; existing models are remarkably effective and come with powerful digital features, like wireless connectivity, that drastically enhance a person’s ability to hear along with their all-around quality of life.

But there is still room for improvement.

Particularly, in specific instances hearing aids have some challenges with two things:

  1. Locating the source of sound
  2. Cutting out background noise

But that may soon change, as the most current research in hearing aid design is being guided from a surprising source: the world of insects.

Why insects hold the secret to better hearing aids

Both mammals and insects have the same problem in terms of hearing: the conversion and amplification of sound waves into information the brain can use. What researchers are identifying is that the mechanism insects use to solve this problem is in many ways more effective than our own.

The organs of hearing in an insect are smaller and more sensitive to a larger range of frequencies, permitting the insect to recognize sounds humans cannot hear. Insects also can sense the directionality and distance of sound in ways more precise than the human ear.

Hearing aid design has customarily been directed by the way humans hear, and hearing aids have had a tendency to offer simple amplification of incoming sound and transmission to the middle ear. But researchers are now asking a completely different question.

Borrowing inspiration from the natural world, they’re inquiring how nature—and its hundreds of millions of years of evolution—has attempted to solve the problem of detecting and perceiving sound. By analyzing the hearing mechanism of various insects, such as flies, grasshoppers, and butterflies, researchers can borrow the best from each to establish a completely new mechanism that can be utilized in the design of new and improved miniature microphones.

Insect-inspired miniature directional microphones

Researchers from University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, and the MRC/CSO Institute for Hearing Research (IHR) at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, will be testing hearing aids furnished with a new kind of miniature microphone inspired by insects.

The hope is that the new hearing aids will achieve three things:

  1. More energy-efficient microphones and electronics that will eventually lead to smaller hearing aids, lower power usage, and longer battery life.
  2. The ability to more accurately locate the source and distance of sound.
  3. The ability to focus on specific sounds while reducing background noise.

Researchers will also be experimenting with 3D printing procedures to improve the design and ergonomics of the new hearing aids.

The future of hearing aids

For virtually all of their history, hearing aids have been produced with the human hearing mechanism in mind, in an attempt to recreate the normal human hearing experience. Now, by asking a different set of questions, researchers are creating a new set of goals. Rather than attempting to RESTORE normal human hearing, perhaps they can IMPROVE it.

The Digital Advantage: Analog Vs. Digital Hearing Aids

Digital Code

You’ve probably heard that today’s hearing aids are “not your grandfather’s hearing aids,” or that hearing aid technology is light-years ahead of where it used to be, even as recently as 5 to 10 years ago. But what makes modern technology so much better? And what exactly can modern day hearing aids accomplish that couldn’t be achieved in the past?

The simple answer is, like most consumer electronics, hearing aids have benefited greatly from the digital revolution. Hearing aids have developed into miniaturized computers, with all of the programming versatility you would expect to see from a modern computer.

But before hearing aids became digital, they were analog. Let’s see if we can find out why the move from analog to digital was such an advancement.

Digital vs analog hearing aids

At the simplest level, all hearing aids do the job the same way. Each hearing aid is equipped with a microphone, amplifier, speaker, and battery. The microphone detects sound in the environment, the amplifier strengthens the signal, and the speaker presents the louder sound to your ear.

Fundamentally, it’s not very complex. Where is does get complex, however, is in the details of how the hearing aids process sound, which digital hearing aids accomplish far differently than their analog alternatives.

Analog hearing aids process sound in a fairly straightforward way. In three basic steps, sound is detected by the microphone, amplified, and delivered to the ear through the speaker. That is… ALL sound is made to be louder, including background noise and the sound frequencies you can already hear properly. Put another way, analog hearing aids amplify even the sounds you don’t want to hear — think of the scratching sound you hear from an analog recording on a vinyl record.

Digital hearing aids, conversely, add a fourth step to the processing of sound: conversion of sound waves to digital information. Sound by itself is an analog signal, but instead of merely making this analog signal louder, digital hearing aids first transform the sound into digital configuration (stored as 0s and 1s) that can then be changed. Digital hearing aids, therefore, can CHANGE the sound before amplification by altering the information stored as a series of 0s and 1s.

If this seems like we’re talking about a computer, we are. Digital hearing aids are essentially miniature computers that run one customized program that manipulates and improves the quality of sound.

Advantages of digital hearing aids

A large number of modern hearing aids are digital, and for good reason. Considering that analog hearing aids can only amplify inbound sound, and cannot change it, analog hearing aids are liable to amplify distracting background noise, making it difficult to hear in noisy environments and nearly impossible to talk on the phone.

Digital hearing aids, in contrast, have the flexibility to amplify specific sound frequencies. When sound is converted into a digital signal, the computer chip can recognize, distinguish, and store specific frequencies. For instance, the higher frequency speech sounds can be labeled and stored separately from the lower frequency background noise. A hearing specialist can then program the computer chip to amplify only the high frequency speech sounds while suppressing the background noise — making it effortless to follow conversations even in noisy conditions.

Here are some of the other advantages of digital hearing aids:

  • Miniaturized computer technology means smaller, more discreet hearing aids, with some models that fit totally in the ear canal, making them mostly invisible.
  • Digital hearing aids tend to have more appealing designs and colors.
  • Digital hearing aids can be programmed by a hearing specialist to process sound in various ways according to the environment. By switching settings, users can achieve ideal hearing for assorted situations, from a quiet room to a noisy restaurant to talking on the phone.
  • Digital hearing aids can be fine-tuned for every patient. Each person hears different sound frequencies at different decibel levels. Digital hearing aids permit the hearing specialist to vary amplification for each sound frequency based on the characteristics of each person’s distinctive hearing loss.

Try digital hearing aids out for yourself

Reading about digital hearing aids is one thing, trying them out is another. But bear in mind that, to get the most out of any set of hearing aids, you need both the technology and the programming proficiency from an seasoned, licensed hearing specialist.

And that’s where we come in. We’ve programmed and fine-tuned countless hearing aids for people with all forms of hearing loss, and are more than happy to do the same for you. Give us a call and experience the digital advantage for yourself!

The Top 5 Hearing Aid Myths Exposed

The Top 5 Hearing Aid Myths Exposed

At times, it seems like we prefer to deceive ourselves. Wikipedia has an entry named “List of common misconceptions” that contains hundreds of widely-held but false beliefs. Yes, I understand it’s Wikipedia, but take a look at the bottom of the page and you’ll notice around 385 references to credible sources.

As an example, did you know that Thomas Edison didn’t invent the lightbulb? Or that sugar does not in reality make kids hyperactive? There are a multitude of examples of beliefs that we just assume to be true, but every now and then, it’s a good idea to reassess what we think we know.

For a number of of us, it’s time to reexamine what we think we know about hearing aids. The majority of myths and misconceptions about hearing aids are based on the problems linked with the outdated analog hearing aid models. But seeing as most hearing aids are now digital, those problems are a thing of the past.

So how up-to-date is your hearing aid knowledge? Read below to see if any of the top 5 myths are preventing you or someone you know from obtaining a hearing aid.

The Top 5 Myths About Hearing Aids

Myth # 1: Hearing aids are not effective because some people have had bad experiences.

Reality: First of all, hearing aids have been demonstrated to be to be highly effective. A study reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association comparing the effectiveness of three common types of hearing aids concluded that:

Each [hearing aid] circuit markedly improved speech recognition, with greater improvement observed for soft and conversationally loud speech….All 3 circuits significantly reduced the frequency of problems encountered in verbal communication….Each circuit provided significant benefit in quiet and noisy listening situations.

On top of that, since the publication of this investigation, hearing aid technology has continued to improve. So the question is not whether hearing aids perform well — the question is whether you have the right hearing aid for your hearing loss, professionally programmed based on to your preferences by a qualified professional.

Bad experiences are probably the result of receiving the wrong hearing aid, purchasing hearing aids online, consulting the wrong individual, or not having the hearing aids personalized and professionally programmed.

Myth # 2: Hearing aids are big, cumbersome, and unsightly.

Reality: This one is particularly easy to disprove. Simply do a quick Google image search for “attractive hearing aid designs” and you’ll see a number of examples of sleek and colorful models from multiple producers.

Additionally, “completely-in-the-canal” (CIC) hearing aids are available that are virtually or completely hidden when worn. The newer, stylish designs, however, convince some patients to go with the somewhat larger hearing aid models to show-off the technology.

Myth # 3: Hearing aids are too expensive.

Reality: Presently, some flat screen television sets with ultra-high definition curved glass sell for $8,000 or more. But this doesn’t make us say that “all TVs are too expensive.”

Just like television sets, hearing aids vary in price depending on performance and features. While you may not want — or need — the top of the line hearing aids, you can more than likely find a pair that fits your needs, preferences, and budget. Also be mindful that, as is the scenario with all electronics, hearing aids are becoming more affordable from year to year, and that the value of healthier hearing and a better life is almost always worthy of the expense.

Myth # 4: You can save time and money buying hearing aids online.

Reality: Remember myth # 1 that maintained that hearing aids are not effective? Well, it was probably brought about by by this myth. Like we said before, hearing aids have been proven to be effective, but the one caution to that statement has always been that hearing aids have to be programmed by a professional to assure performance.

You wouldn’t dare purchase a pair of prescription glasses online without consulting your eye doctor because your glasses need to be personalized according to the unique attributes of your vision loss. Buying hearing aids is no different.

Yes, visiting a hearing specialist is more expensive, but take into account what you get for the price: you can be confident that you get the right hearing aid with the right fitting and settings, in addition to follow-up care, adjustments, cleanings, instructions, repair services, and more. It’s worth it.

Myth # 5: Hearing aids are uncomfortable and complicated to operate.

Reality: If this refers to analog hearing aids, then yes, it is generally true. The thing is, practically all hearing aids are now digital.

Digital hearing aids dynamically process sound with a mini computer chip so that you don’t have to worry about manual adjustments; additionally, some digital hearing aids can even be operated through your mobile phone. The bottom line: digital hearing aids are being developed with maximum ease-of-use in mind.

Your hearing specialist can also create a custom mold for your hearing aids, ensuring a comfortable and ideal fit. While a one-size-fits all hearing aid will very likely be uncomfortable, a custom-fit hearing aid conforms to the shape of your ear.

A Brief History of Hearing Aids

These days, countless people utilize hearing aids daily so that they can hear better. This has been the case all through history, even though the technology has unquestionably evolved quite a bit. Available in various shapes, sizes, and even colors, today’s hearing aids only weigh a few ounces when they used to weigh several pounds! They’re not only more convenient these days, but they offer the user several more advantages, such as the ability to connect to Bluetooth and even separate out background noise. Here we present a abbreviated history of hearing aids and how far they have come.

Earliest Innovations

Way back in the 17th century, something labeled as the ear trumpet was created. ear trumpets were most suitable to those who only had limited hearing impairments. They were large, awkward and only functioned to amplify sound in the immediate environment. Envision an old-time phonograph with the conical sphere and you’ll understand what they looked like. They were more prevalent as the calendar ticked over to the 18th century, with many different models manufactured for the very wealthy, such as the Reynolds Trumpet especially designed for the famed painter Joshua Reynolds. This horn-shaped instrument basically just funneled sound into the inner ear.

New Possibilities

The hearing devices of the 17th and 18th centuries supplied only very little amplification qualities. When the 19th century arrived, far more opportunities emerged with electrical technologies. In fact, it was the development of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 that produced the advancement leading to electrical transmission of speech. Sparked by this invention, Thomas Edison invented the carbon transmitter for the telephone in 1878 which enhanced the basics of the telephone and actually boosted the electrical signal to improve hearing.

Vacuum Tubes

Vacuum tubes were up next, released by Western Electric Co., in New York City in 1920. This company built upon the technology found in Lee De Forest’s development of the three-component tube just a few years earlier. These devices supplied not only better amplification but also better frequency. The early models were quite big, but the size was reduced not many years later to the size of a small box connected to a receiver. It was still very inconvenient and didn’t offer the versatility and comfort of the hearing aids to come.

First Wearable Devices

The first devices that could actually be put on semi-comfortably were produced by a Chicago electronics manufacturer in the late 1930s. The hearing aids featured a thin wire connected to an earpiece and receiver, together with a battery pack that clipped to the user’s leg. More portable models became available during World War II which posed a more reliable service to the user thanks to printed circuit boards.

Modern Models

Behind-the-ear hearing aids came about in 1964 by Zenith Radio; digital signal-processing chips, hybrid analog-digital models, and finally fully digital models hit the market in 1996. By the 21st century, programmable hearing aids were all the craze, providing for greater versatility, customization and comfort. Today, 90 percent of all hearing aids are digital, and that number is only expected to grow. What will be the next development?


10 Things You Didn’t Know About Hearing Aids

Hearing aids have gone through a large number of iterations in their 200-plus year history. The technology that is utilized in hearing aids has historically been developed in consequence of a dedicated scientist who is either impacted by hearing loss or has a friend or family member impacted by hearing loss. For instance, Alexander Graham Bell’s mother had profound hearing loss and his wife was deaf.

Here are 10 other little-known facts about hearing aids:

1. Hearing aids can be synced up with wireless devices through advanced technology like Bluetooth, so users can enjoy direct signals from their smart phone, MP3 player, TV, and other electronic products.

2. Hearing aids are not one size fits all – as a matter of fact, they can and should be programmable. This indicates they have the ability to recall the most comfortable configurations for the user, often adapting in real time to the immediate environment.

3. Digital hearing aids – a recent advancement — have considerably minimized the occurrence of pestering feedback, echoes, and background noises. These were par for the course as part of older technologies, and they made paying attention much more challenging.

4. Hearing aids have the capacity for enhancing and clarifying sound, in addition to making it louder for the user.

5. When used in conjunction with special induction or hearing loops, hearing aid users can more clearly hear notices in public places, meetings, airports, arenas, and other congested environments. This technology enhances sounds and minimizes all the background noise.

6. Hearing aids were once only manufactured in beige and similar colors to fit in with people’s skin color, so that they were not easily recognizable. Today, users are welcoming their hearing aid technology, wearing assorted colors and patterns to showcase their devices and attract attention in a crowd.

7. In the same vein, hearing aids are smaller in size than ever before. They used to be massive, cumbersome gadgets that weighed several pounds and didn’t really do much to amplify sound. Today, they only weigh a few ounces and provide superior sound quality.

8. Today, you can invest in water resistant and waterproof hearing aids to better fit in with your lifestyle. Water resistant hearing aids can withstand low levels of humidity and moisture, while waterproof hearing aids can withstand higher levels of moisture during showering and even swimming.

9. Many hearing aids are now made with rechargeable technology; instead of having to frequently replace batteries, hearing aids can simply be recharged, thereby avoiding maintenance costs and hassle.

10. Hearing aids are not only for the hard of hearing — individuals suffering from tinnitus can often obtain relief from the constant ringing with the special tinnitus therapy components contained in many hearing aids.


Now that you learned some interesting tidbits about hearing aids and their accompanying technology, you can better understand what they have to offer the young and the old alike.


How Hearing Aids are Programmed

Don’t fret about your hearing aid customization: programming will ensure it’s a perfect fit to your needs. You should need undergo hearing aid programmed before wearing it out of the office to make way for troubleshooting which features work or don’t work. Just as you wouldn’t fit just any lenses into your frames without the assistance of an ophthalmologist, an audiologist must perform the programming of your hearing device so it works optimally. Your existing hearing capabilities are taken into consideration during this process. It’s done by a certified audiologist and encompasses many different factors that we will discuss below.

What Factors can be Adjusted?

There are countless components they take into account when they program your hearing aid. Audiologists are able to adjust elements like volume, intensity levels, frequency, compression ratios, maximum output of power, microphone use and noise reduction. They can even change a setting that’s just too sensitive to noise so the user gets the most comfort, or they can filter out the din of background noise that makes it so hard to hear clearly in group situations.

Programming Hearing Aids

Your doctor should have all the right hardware, software and cables to connect to the hearing aid so the programming process can take place in the office. Although some people actually are skilled in programming their own hearing aids, this is discouraged because of the expense involved and the lowered quality of results. You should contact a professional for this task to ensure optimal results. The hearing aids of today can reduce noise and feedback using a unique surround sound system to simulate real noise from the outside environment and make adjustments based on those results in real time. This surround sound system approach is efficient because it is able to simulate crowd noises and help the doctor adjust noise reduction factors. These unparalleled troubleshooting capabilities allow the hearing aid to be customized to the individual. Real ear measurements, visual mapping and environmental simulations must all be used. Real-ear probe microphones are an interesting component as well, to detect sounds that are hitting the eardrum. Now the doctor can more accurately program the device to specific parameters. Visible speech mapping (VSM) is a state of the art alternative to traditional measurements that shows how various sounds of speech hit the eardrum.

Processing Time

Adjustments in digital hearing aids often happen on an ongoing basis as the user troubleshoots preferences in the real world. Older hearing devices were very easy to operate and adjust, usually with just a screwdriver and some time. Now doctors can personalize hundreds of elements within digital hearing aids to gel with the hearing needs of the individual. Programming is dependent on many subjective preferences thanks to a thorough hearing evaluation. Just like you wouldn’t just buy a mattress or a car without trying it out first, the same goes with hearing aids. This doesn’t mean it’s a one-time process, though. You may return to the office with suggestions on what you would like to incorporate. This is due to the fact that the brain can’t immediately adjust to the new sounds emitted by the device, allowing you to evaluate different listening situation to best match your needs.