Connect Hear and There, Connect Everywhere with Hearing Aids

by Thomas A. Powers, PhD


Hearing aids have made enormous strides since the first digital sound processors were introduced just over 20 years ago. Technologies such as directional microphone, digital noise reduction, frequency lowering, and more have made a positive impact on many individuals with hearing loss.

As we know, listening in a noisy environment is challenging for those with hearing loss. When there are multiple sounds surrounding you, finding the one signal you are interested in can be difficult. These include hearing someone’s phone number, listening to music or just taking in the great outdoors.

The way we use technology has certainly changed with the advent of smartphones, and this is true for the connection between hearing aids and our devices. Learning to use both our hearing aids and our devices is as much a part of the process as getting the hearing aids into our ears.  

For example, directional microphones function by relying on competing noises that come from behind the listener.  Imagine you have just arrived at your favorite restaurant and are being escorted to your table. Understanding where the noise is coming from is one important decision someone wearing hearing aids should always consider. If you seat yourself against the wall facing into the restaurant, your conversational partner's speech is coming at you from the front and the directional microphone will provide little assistance separating the competing noise. However, if you seat yourself facing the wall and have the restaurant noise behind you, the hearing aids (and directional microphone) can work to reduce the competing effects of that background noise. While it cannot eliminate it entirely, it can provide a much better listening environment and hopefully an enjoyable conversation over dinner with you dining partner.

Another useful tool are the apps that all manufacturers provide to allow the user to control how the features of the hearing aids work in specific environments. They can be used to control the overall amplification or gain, they can shift the “beam” of the directional microphone to allow you to hear someone next to your in your car or even children in the rear seats.  They can allow you to make contact with your hearing professional while you are in a new difficult listening environment. The hearing professional may be able to send an adjustment to your hearing aid that may allow for better understanding or to reduce the listening effort to understand the conversation.

The above examples are just a few of the tools that you have at your disposal to make your listening experience better and get the most from your hearing aids. Explore the websites of your hearing care professional and of your hearing aid manufacturer to find useful tips. Download the apps that are available for your devices. Be motivated and take advantage of the tools and technology that are in those tiny devices that fit in or behind your ear, and get better connected to your favorite technology, such as smartphones and other household devices.

Hear well – Stay Vital.

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