There is a line that I use when talking to patient about hearing aids. Occasionally, people come into our office and say, “I know some people that have hearing aids and they tell me they are nothing but trouble.” I usually nod my head in agreement because hearing aids don’t always have the best reputation. But then I respond by saying, “A hearing aid is like a good toupee. If you’ve got a good one, you aren’t going to broadcast that you’re wearing one.” It usually garners a smile and a laugh. When we fix our hearing, we often don’t want to have to tell our friends and family that we did so with the use of a hearing aid. Personally, I think this is silly. We aren’t ashamed of our glasses. Of course, I wear contact lens so maybe I am being hypocritical. The biggest problem with hearing aids and their reputation is that we probably have a very outdated image of what a hearing aid is in our head. The hearing aids that are available today are nothing like the technology that was available even a few years ago. If you have hearing loss, it’s probably important that you look at what’s new with hearing aids.
A hearing aid is like a good toupee. If you’ve got a good one, you aren’t going to broadcast that you’ve wearing one.
When people hear the word “hearing aids” it conjures up images on something that your grandparents wore. A large, behind the ear hearing aid with a think tube connected to a large earmold that was very visible. Something that looked like this:
There is nothing wrong with this hearing aid. And for some people (those with profound hearing loss) this hearing aid is the best option for them. But for the vast majority of people this is not the hearing aid that is best for their specific loss. As hearing aid technology has improved over the years, it has also gotten significantly smaller and much more discrete. Most people that have hearing aids are wearing ones that are so small they are nearly impossible to see. In fact, there is a hearing aid known as an “Invisible in the Canal” hearing aid because it fits so deeply in the canal that it can’t be seen.
But as I have said many times, you should not buy a hearing aid based on the style. The most important thing to determine when choosing the style of hearing aid is “will it be the best style to fix my hearing loss”? One of our hearing experts will be happy to test your hearing and walk you through the different style options to find what is best for you and your specific hearing loss. Everybody’s loss is different, so it makes sense to carry many different styles, brands and technology levels.
When we think back to the hearing aids that our grandparents wore, there were other things that drove us crazy. Maybe when we went to hug Grandma, we could hear her hearing aids squeal. With today’s hearing aids, feedback suppression can keep them from squealing and whistling like they used to. A quick feedback test and adjustment from one of our experts can assure that your hearing aids won’t be heard from a mile away.
Another thing that used to annoy people about hearing aids of the past was their ineffectiveness on the phone. Some patients have even told me that they used to take their hearing aids out to talk on the phone! This is also a thing of the past. Improved clarity on the phone is something that you will get from any new hearing aid, but some hearing aids have even taken things a step further. There are a number of hearing aids that will connect directly to a smart phone allowing for streaming of telephone calls (and other media) directly from the device to your ears. These hearing aids come with easy to use apps for your phone that also allow you to control the volume and microphone settings on the hearing aids. And before you say “I’m not great with all this technology stuff” don’t worry. The app is very easy to navigate and use. In fact, we tell our patients to use as many (or as few) of the features that they are comfortable with.
Another complaint that I used to hear all the time was regarding background noise. “My hearing aids work great, but when I go to a restaurant, all I hear is the junk noise.” This is yet another problem that hearing aids are eliminating. Hearing aids today are built with programs specifically designed to reduce background noise. This is done through microphone configuration and internal programming. And if this seems like a lot of the hearing aid to be able to do all by itself, that’s because it is! Hearing aids today have a more powerful computer chip inside them than home PCs had just 15 years ago!
If you have questions about hearing aid features, or hearing loss in general, give our office a call and schedule and appointment with one of our hearing experts. They will be happy to guide you along your journey to better hearing!