Basic hearing aids and cochlear implants are, of course, still useful in better hearing for hearing-impaired individuals. But modern hearing aid technology provides them with more features that give them more control over what they hear, when they hear it, and how loud they hear it! Yes, these features may initially seem like bells and whistles, especially since these add to the cost, but these are crucial in better hearing.
Background noise is among the biggest hurdles that hearing-impaired people deal with on a daily basis, said noise of which can include crackles, hisses and buzz resembling tinnitus. While it’s harmless, it can drown out the sounds that you want to hear like your family and friends’ conversations, music, and incoming traffic.
The problem, fortunately, can be solved with directional microphones that work in two
complementary ways. First, these pick up and amplify sound from a single direction; and second, these filter out background noise. You will then hear more of the primary sounds you want to hear and less of the ambient noise.
Most modern hearing aids have built-in directional microphones. Many of these have an automatic feature, too, that allows them to pick up sound from one direction (e.g., conversations) or from several directions (e.g., music).
Personal Sound Amplifiers
These are popular because of their cheaper prices and non-regulated status by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Think of them as the auditory counterpart of over-the-counter reading glasses – you don’t need hearing aids prescription to buy them!
Basically, personal sound amplifiers are like hearing aids except that these can be quite powerful and loud. While these can improve hearing for hearing-impaired people, these can also be quite harmful because of the potential damage to the ears.
If you have hearing difficulties, you should go to your doctor or consult with an audiologist first so that the treatment can be customized to your needs.
Hearing Loops and Telecoils
While conventional hearing aids are useful in face-to-face conversations, these can be less useful in larger settings like airports, theaters and stadiums. This is where hearing loops and telecoils come in. In a loop system, one or more microphones are connected to an amplifier and a wire loop, the latter of which sends sounds via electromagnetic waves. The sound signals are picked up by your hearing aid – or in some cases, by a telecoil, a cochlear implant – that allows amplification of sound. You can hear the sounds clearly that you will forget you ever have hearing issues!
With the connected society we have now, even hearing aids are connected to smartphones, tablets and computers. The connection typically comes via Bluetooth technology that links your hearing aids to your devices so you can hear music, make phone calls, and listen to Waze directions, among others.
HK Hearing & Speech Centre
Specialist of Hearing test & assessment,
and Hearing Aid Prescription