Change is good. Usually. Well, it is if you have a hearing loss and wear hearing instruments. As technology changes, it provides the hearing impaired with more options to correct their hearing loss. Hearing instruments that are four to five years old have about 1/4 of the usable technology to instruments that are produced today.
Hearing instruments used to have a narrower bandwidth. This means that there was just small frequency range to be able to access. This is due to the limitations of feedback. The higher pitch frequencies and the extreme lower pitch frequencies can cause a feedback loop thus making the hearing instrument whistle. Today’s instruments have unique feedback cancellation systems, thus allowing for the development of a much broader range for hearing. For instance, instead of a hearing aid amplifying from 500 Hz to 4,000Hz they can now successfully amplify and control noise in the ranges from 150 Hz to 9400 Hz. This provides for much more distinct speech cues as well as better background noise control.
Hearing instruments have been wireless for years. This means that they can communicate with various accessories to stream sound from remote components (like a remote mic that you clip on someone to hear better). They run off a 928 megahertz signal.
Now, we have Bluetooth hearing instruments. They will connect directly to various smartphones and tablets. They also have streamers to the TV and other accessories. The run of a 2.4 GHz signal that provides an exceptionally clear transmission of sound. This Blue tooth connection to the smart phone opens up a ton of possibilities. If you workout, you can “stream” your music directly to your hearing aids. If you are visually impaired you can ask your phone for directions on how to do something and it will “speak the answer directly into your hearing aid.” If you have an amazon account then your hearing aids can become your virtual assistant. You don’t even have to have an amazon Alexa or Echo to make this happen; you just have to have the account. Perhaps you travel and are in the car a lot. With the tap of the button on your hearing instrument you can listen to your text messages.
Today’s hearing aids can track your steps like a fitness tracker and also send help if you fall. Current hearing instruments also have “Hearing Care Anywhere” built into them. This allows for quick remote programming from your hearing care professional.
Older hearing instruments had one microphone to pick up the sound. Today, even in custom, there are multiple microphones that pick up the speech and environmental sounds and separate them into different zones, pinpoint their location and then determine where the patient is looking and what they are trying to understand. Even in custom, all-in-the-ear hearing instruments, there are multi-directional microphone systems to help provide the best possible speech detection and localization of sound. Older hearing instruments simply did not have this type of technological advantage.
Hearing instruments on the market today also have noise and speech processors that kick into gear (depending upon how they are programmed) to constantly measure and adapt to your ever-changing sound landscape.
Hearing instruments are now small, discreet and comfortable. They look great. Most importantly, today’s hearing instruments are the very best at reproducing speech clearly. Advancements in technology means better hearing and better speech understanding is here. If you are 50 years of age or older, you should get a baseline hearing examination. If you have any degree of hearing loss or speech understanding difficulty, then a complete hearing workup should be completed. Many health issues are related to your hearing. Get checked today. To Hear Better Is To Live Better!
Roseann B. Kiefer, B.A., BC-HIS, is owner of Lampe and Kiefer Hearing Aid Center. Sebring. This information is not intended to prevent, diagnose, treat or cure your condition. Always talk to your doctor before following any medical advice or starting a diet or exercise program.