Hearing Aids – Digital Hearing Aid Features, Options and Bluetooth
There are a variety of options for hearing aids today, and it can be confusing for a person to pick and choose among them. A hearing aid is only successful if it is matched to the lifestyle of the patient, not just the hearing loss itself. To navigate successfully through all of these features, it is crucial to have an audiologist assist you in the selection of hearing aids and features. Here are a few options that are growing in popularity and will help to resolve some of the issues hearing aid users had complained about in the past.
Open fit (OTE)
This style of hearing aid has been around for several years now and has quickly become the most popular style of hearing aid on the market. If a new hearing aid model is released, it almost always has an open-fit version. With an open fit hearing aid, the canal is barely covered by a small thin dome that lets in sound naturally while amplifying only the sounds you have difficulty hearing, mainly in the high frequency range. The occlusion/plugged up sensation is now gone with open fit devices. Due to their small size, open fit hearing aids are the most cosmetically appealing.
For those who want more flexibility and control over their hearing aids, remote controls are available through several manufacturers. They can fit on your key chain, in your pocket, and even double as a watch. This is a great option for those patients that would like very small hearing aids, but also control over program options and volume. This is also an option for patients with dexterity issues.
Hearing aids actually record how you use the hearing aids AND the different listening environments in which you are exposed on an everyday basis. This gives us the ability to further customize the hearing aids for you as you progress through the trial period.
The hearing aid learns and applies your volume changes and preferences for various listening situations. A manual volume control or remote is necessary to have access to this feature. Over time, it will learn to adjust the volume automatically in different listening environments so that you won’t need to.
Moisture (from rain, humidity, perspiration, wax, etc.) is the #1 cause of hearing aid repairs. Moisture resistant features for hearing aids minimize the effects of these various moisture sources, but it does not make the hearing aid waterproof. You cannot shower or swim with most hearing aids. Even if you live in a dry area, you are still prone to moisture buildup. If used in conjunction with a dehumidifier, such as a Dry and Store, the need for repairs can be reduced.
Wind Noise Management
Hearing aid manufacturers are now able to control a peak in the frequency response when wind noise is present blowing over the microphone. This feature has evolved to the point that the wind noise can now be reduced without diminishing the quality of the speech signal. This feature would be recommended to anyone that spends a significant amount of time outdoors. It is available in almost all premium models and some mid level technology as well.
Bluetooth and Hearing Aids
As of yet, options or accessories have to be purchased with hearing aids for it to receive a Bluetooth signal. Hearing aids themselves are not equipped with Bluetooth technology. With the proper accessories and properly equipped hearing aids, a patient can run a Bluetooth signal through their hearing aids.
A hearing aid has to have one or both of the following components to work with Bluetooth:
- A Telecoil – This is essentially a small magnet inside a hearing aid that receives signals from telephones or other devices. Most Bluetooth accessories communicate with the hearing aids through either a magnetic loop worn around the neck or using different magnetic coupler laying against a BTE hearing aid.
- Direct Audio Input (DAI) – this option is almost exclusive to standard BTEs and allows for connection with FM systems and other options. This is the most expensive way to use Bluetooth in conjunction with hearing aid.
Bluetooth options are somewhat limited at the moment, however, the options available do work well. Cost can range from about $100 for universal devices limited to cell phone use only to a $750 option that is hearing aid brand specific that doubles as a remote control, Bluetooth receiver, and television transmitter. The systems using DAI and FM receivers can easily approach $2,000, but their multi-use functions are numerous and well worth it for the right person.
PLEASE CONTACT CLARK AUDIOLOGY AT 484-231-1340 TO DISCUSS ANY OF THESE OPTIONS IN MORE DETAIL.