Hearing Aids: What's New - And Right for You
By Jennifer Gehlen, Educational Specialist at Siemens Hearing Instruments
After a certain age, we sometimes avoid invitations to what we anticipate will be noisy social gatherings. This isn’t because we’ve suddenly lost interest in our friends and family — rather, we’d like to avoid the frustration and embarrassment of not being able to hear and converse in these challenging situations.
One in 6 members of the “Baby Boomer” generation experiences hearing problems, yet only one out of four who would benefit from the advanced hearing solutions available takes advantage of the opportunity. If you’re someone who could really use some help hearing, but has hesitated to take the next step to treat your hearing loss, here are some technological advances that may convince you.
Great power — tiny packages.
Believe it or not, today’s digital technology holds more processing power than the computer that sent the first space shuttle into orbit, all packed into hearing aids that have become so tiny and discreet they are often unnoticeable — nothing like the clunky beige devices you might remember your grandparents wearing. There are options that sit completely behind your ear with clear tubes connecting to earpieces that are virtually impossible to see. Or there are custom-made instruments so tiny they are called “invisible-in-the-canal” — absolutely no one will know you’re wearing hearing aids unless you tell them.
Safe from the elements.
Water-resistant options mean you don’t have to worry if you wear them in the rain or tend to perspire. There is even a completely waterproof option on the market that allows you to swim underwater with your hearing aids in! Wind screening technology allows you to hear clearly with the car windows open while driving, golfing, or enjoying other outdoor activities.
Hear what you want to hear.
In fact, overall hearing aid technology has vastly improved over the past decade, particularly when it comes to hearing speech in noisy situations like crowded restaurants or cocktail parties. The use of directional microphones to pick up a voice coming from in front, behind, or to either side of the listener, combined with super-fast analysis and processing, allows some hearing aid wearers to hear even better than their counterparts with normal hearing in these difficult environments. Noise reduction technology keeps you hearing comfortably in noisy situations, reducing the fatigue that comes from straining to catch every word someone is saying over loud music or chatter.
Relief from ringing in the ear.
For those who suffer from tinnitus (ringing or buzzing in the ear not due to any outside source) several hearing aids on the market include therapeutic features to reduce that aggravation. They provide relief by generating “white” or “pink” noise to counteract tinnitus, helping you to hear better while suppressing the distracting buzz.