Cindy Leeb, Au.D.
Technology. It is a huge buzz word now a days. Everyone wants new technology and wants “updated technology” but what does that really mean? When we talk about technology we are discussing devices that have been created by applying scientific knowledge in their construction. Figuratively when we use the word technology in the Audiology world we are talking about all the features hearing aids have to offer for those with hearing impairment. Every year the technology in hearing aids improve, but what does that mean for you as the consumer? Should you go rechargeable? Maybe you want direct connection to your cellphone? Or maybe you want a device that connects you directly to your TV?
In the last few years the biggest changes in hearing aid technology has been the ability for hearing aids to connect directly without any accessories to iphones and to some android phones. This allows you not only to stream calls and music from your device straight through your hearing aids without carrying around any extra accessories but also allows you to have more real time control over what your hearing aids are doing on a regular basis. Most apps allow patients to control the volume and program that they are set in so you no longer have to reach up and control your hearing aids from the controls on the devices itself, but some also offer features that allow you to create and save your own settings for later. So for example that favorite restaurant you like to go to weekly or the coffee shop where you meet your friends can have a designated program that you have created while sitting in the environment. This allows you to tailor the sound specifically for the environment you are currently in instead of depending on volume changes alone by allowing you to control things like the level of the bass and treble sounds, how the microphones are focusing on your hearing aids, and how aggressive the devices are being about filtering background noise. These upgrades in technology have allowed users to take a more active role in the function of their hearing aids.
And maybe your reading this and thinking, “No I just want the hearing aids set for me and I want to forget about them”. Well that is an option too. Hearing aid technology advances every year to make the devices more automatic in terms of how they filter a wide variety of background noise while preserving speech. It’s all about finding the right hearing aid with the features that meet your needs best.
Each individual with hearing loss has very unique needs. Even when two hearing losses look the same on paper two people may have very different outcomes with the same product programmed exactly the same way. It is important for your audiologist to take the time to get to know your hearing loss needs and activity level whether it be during the case history or once testing is completed to recommend the most appropriate technology for you. Just because your friend, neighbor, or family member swears it is the best hearing aid he or she has ever had does not mean it is the most appropriate product for your individual needs. It is important to speak with your audiologist about where your struggle and what listening environments are very important to you so your audiologist can best steer you to the technology that is right for you. So maybe controlling your hearing aid with your cellphone is not right for you, but maybe a hearing aid with rechargeable batteries is because of reduced dexterity or feeling in your fingers. Or maybe a hearing aid that is custom built for your specific ear canal is best. The technology is there, it is just a matter of finding the right product for you.