JULY 19, 2019
Did you know modern Hearing Aids are capable of doing some pretty awesome things?
Modern hearing aids come standard with Bluetooth technology. Therefore, they can stream music, videos, and phone calls directly to your ears. With Bluetooth technology, you can stream music and video from almost any device and enjoy an experience that is richer and far more pleasant than ever before. When streaming phone calls, this means you are no longer required to put your phone on speaker or to uncomfortably hold it up to your ear.
In addition to being hands free during phone calls, the call goes directly into both ears. Which allows you to listen with less mental energy and to hear more clearly, a phenomenon called binaural summation. Binaural summation occurs when the brain takes information from both sides of the brain, combines it, and amplifies the signal. In simple terms, the same sound sounds louder when you hear it in two ears versus one.
Modern hearing aids come with advanced Lithium-Ion rechargeable batteries. This feature allows hearing aids to be a more integrated and seamless part of your active lifestyle. Previously, hearing aid users had to change their disposable batteries every 4-7 days. This meant that hearing aids could die while you were on vacation, running errands, about to enter a big meeting, or at any other inconvenient and unexpected time. In the past you may have found yourself running to the grocery store or drug store in panic mode to buy new batteries.
With Lithium-Ion rechargeables, you no longer have to do this. Battery times last anywhere from 18-30 hours depending on make/model and streaming time. Generally speaking, the more you stream, the less battery life you have.
As a hearing aid user myself, I can attest to the battery life and have yet to run into an instance where my charge did not last the whole day. I personally stream music most of the day and have not worried about my devices dying; it simply hasn’t happened. Unlike Zinc-Air rechargeable batteries, the new Lithium-Ion batteries are very reliable and very consistent.
Hearing Aids have an advanced CPU that constantly scans the surrounding environment more than 100 times per second. This is important because this allows for Audiologists to tackle, in ways that we previously couldn’t, one of the biggest complaints among hearing aid users; understanding speech in noisy environments (i.e. restaurants, concerts, church, family functions, and more). The CPU is essentially the brain behind the hearing aid and features like noise management and adaptive microphone technology.
Have you ever heard someone with hearing aids complain about background noise or that noise is overwhelming? Thankfully, due to technological advancements, this complaint is becoming much more uncommon. Each time the hearing aid CPU scans the environment it reads the environment and classifies the different types of signals according to the shape of their waveforms and intensity.
In layman’s terms, the Noise Manager identifies noise, separates it from speech, reduces the noise, and clarifies speech.
“With Bluetooth technology, you can stream music and video from almost any device and enjoy an experience that is richer and far more pleasant than ever before.“
Hearing Aid Microphones
Hearing Aid microphones allow you to focus on a specific person and block out unwanted noise or chatter. Each pair of hearing aids has a total of 4 microphones that continuously scan the environment and identify the various sources of sound and speech. They then focus on speech.
What researchers have found is that we typically face those we are conversing with. When noise levels reach certain levels of loudness and our speaker is in front of us, our hearing aids will turn of their rear microphones and use only the front facing microphones. This effectively turns down everything behind us and focuses on everything in front of us. While this may sound simple, hearing aid microphones can do a lot of complex things!
You may recall hearing a squealing noise coming from a grandparents hearing aid in the past. This is more commonly known as feedback and it happens because sound leaks out of the ear and interacts with the hearing aid microphones. The same phenomenon happens with audio equipment on stage. If you’ve ever heard an awful and painful sound come from someone speaking into a microphone, that’s exactly what feedback is.
With hearing aids, the louder we turn a hearing aid up, the more likely feedback is to occur. This means that feedback limits how loud we can make hearing aids.
Modern Hearing Aids contain what is called a Feedback Manager, which reduces feedback by cancelling out the soundwave that causes feedback. This reduces the risk for feedback and increases the range for how loud we can make hearing aids for patients.
Note: if you or a family member is experiencing feedback contact your Audiologist. They should be able to adjust for and eliminate most cases of feedback.
Example of Modern Hearing Aids
Historically speaking, one of the biggest hurdles to getting people to buy hearing aids was the size, shape, and color of hearing aids. They used to have limited color options, could be seen from a mile away, and were difficult to use. Some people were so embarrassed about how their devices looked that they bought them and never wore them unless they absolutely needed them. Modern hearing aids look almost completely different than how they used to look.
What you may not realize is that the man in the above image is actually wearing a Hearing Aid!
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At Restoration Hearing we offer the following recommendations for championing the fight against hearing loss:
- Get your hearing tested once every 5 years (1x/year for those 65 and up).
- Learn about the risks for hearing loss.
- Invest in high-quality hearing protection and take steps to reduce your risk for developing hearing loss.
Thank you for taking time to read our blog post. Please stay tuned for our next post!
Dr. Michael P. Cleary, Au.D., CCC-A