The last ten years have brought about significant improvements in hearing aids, thank goodness. Gone are the tan, clunky analog models incapable of the finesse needed to separate speech signals from useless background noise. Today’s hearing aids rely on digital platforms with programming flexibility for better personalization and the added benefit of being lighter, smaller and sleeker.
The digital age opened the door for the current round of amazing features of the modern hearing aid including signal amplification for clearer calls and advanced speech recognition bolstered by directional microphones and high-speed processing.
Like all things in our digital age, modern hearing aids can, of course, be linked to a smartphone. Similar to using a Bluetooth, the smartphone can send audio directly to a hearing aid. There’s also an app to allow the phone to act as a specialized remote to eliminate the traditional around-the-neck remote. Subtle volume adjustments can be made right from the phone.
Another benefit to the smartphone-aided hearing aid is that the phone can become a microphone to mitigate the challenges presented by multiple conversations in a busy setting, like a crowded restaurant. The phone can be placed in front of the person speaking and the conversation can flow easily over pasta and wine.
A smartphone’s tracking and analytics capabilities can also be leveraged by a hearing aid wearer to maximize the wireless hearing aid experience. A lost hearing aid can be located if it’s within a reasonable distance. If it’s not close, or if the battery has died, the phone can tell you the GPS coordinates of the hearing aid’s last location. On the analytics side, the phone keeps records of hearing aid usage and adjustments that can then be shared with a hearing healthcare provider to help craft custom treatment plans.
How much technology to use is a personal decision made across several buying platforms like TVs, computers, and household appliances to name just a few. More high-tech usually means higher pricing and faster battery drain and that is true with hearing aids, too. Another consideration is the relationship you have with your smartphone. If you are an active smartphone user and have your phone with you constantly, smartphone-enabled hearing aids may seamlessly fit in with your lifestyle. However, if you use your smartphone occasionally, or only for emergencies, there are better choices for you.
When researching options, make sure to ask about these features:
- Telecoil Technology – Telecoils are wireless antenna available in most hearing aids. They can link into sound systems for more amplified sound.
- Background Noise Suppression – Since background noise is a lower frequency sound it can be separated and suppressed.
- Directional Microphones – More focused than a traditional omnidirectional microphone, a directional microphone is sensitive to sound coming from the area directly in front of it.
It’s a hyper-connected world and you can enhance your connection to the things that matter to you with proper hearing healthcare. Schedule a hearing evaluation today to get started.
It is estimated that approximately 37 million Americans have some degree of hearing loss. Many of those 37 million are untreated. It may be for financial reasons, a reluctance to receive treatment, a fear of doctors or other personal reasons, but the truth is it can be a bigger problem than it may appear to be. Living with more limited hearing may seem like a simple choice between the normal volume on the TV and turning it up a few notches, but left untreated, hearing loss can have much more serious consequences than missing some of the conversation.
As research findings on hearing problems and their link to quality of life continue to grow, many common themes are coming to light showing just how problematic untreated hearing loss can be. Here are three ways untreated hearing loss can hurt your health:
Less Social Interaction
It’s no secret these days that social interaction can play a positive role in health. Studies have shown that quality relationships can help reduce stress, increase feelings of well-being, and even reduce your risk of death. Relationships are often cited as the most important thing for happiness. Unfortunately, hearing loss can have a negative impact on these relationships, especially when that loss goes untreated. Sometimes it’s a breakdown in communication within relationships, sometimes an avoidance of social situations for fear of confusion or appearing rude, but withdrawing from those quality relationships can damage health now and down the road.
Increased Risk of Depression
With less social interaction and increased isolation due to hearing loss, there is believed to be a higher risk of mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression. According to one report on the Consequences of Uncorrected Hearing Loss, “Several studies have shown that uncorrected hearing loss gives rise to poorer quality of life, related to isolation, reduced social activity, and a feeling of being excluded, leading to an increased prevalence of symptoms of depression.” As hearing problems continue to go untreated, these feelings can compound increasing the risk of physical health problems too.
Some of the most interesting research into untreated hearing loss in recent years has been its impact on the brain. It is believed that the negative effects are two-fold:
- When there is hearing loss, the brain must work harder to listen. According to research findings, this increased effort requires extra resources from the brain, leaving less for other cognitive functions.
- While the cause is not yet fully understood and may be related to the harder working brain, some research is pointing to a link between untreated hearing loss and an increased risk of dementia.
It’s hard to deny that hearing loss, when left untreated, can pose serious consequences to overall health beyond less clarity of sound.
If you believe you or someone you know is affected by hearing loss, seek treatment to help prevent physical and mental concerns in the future. Work with an audiologist to find the best solutions for your needs. Discuss the best hearing aids to help improve your quality of life. Don’t let hearing loss impair your health!