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Hearing Aid Features
What Features are Important?
Majority of individuals feel that the option of multiple program settings, which allows the user to optimize aids for a variety of environments, such as quiet rooms or loud restaurants, is the most important feature to look for when purchasing hearing aids. In addition, hearing aids with the ability to automatically adjust their noise level was also important.
Wind Noise Reduction
Patients consistently rank increased wind noise as one of the most bothersome issues with hearing aid technology. The turbulent nature of wind causes physical vibration of the hearing aid microphones that lead to a loud rushing sound. For people with hearing loss this loud rushing noise makes speech comprehension very difficult when outdoors. Some manufacturers have come up with intricate noise reduction algorithms that can lower the perception of wind noise to an acceptable level. This specialized feature to combat wind noise is absolutely required for all patients who enjoy spending time outdoors for all sorts of leisure and recreational activities.
Instead of using disposable batteries, the ability to simply recharge all kinds of technology has emerged as the preferred option for all types of consumer electronics. This option is popular for patients who have vision and/or physical dexterity as well as memory issues that make changing batteries quite difficult. The patient simply needs to place the hearing aids into a charging station overnight, and these devices are ready to use in the morning. In addition, for patients who would prefer to use a more environmentally friendly power option than disposable batteries, rechargeable batteries especially newer Silver-Zinc technology is recyclable and earth friendly. Rechargeable hearing aids have a charger that is plugged into an electrical source, and the patient simply needs to place their hearing aids into the charger each night or when their hearing aids are not in use.
Manual versus Automatically functioning hearings aids
Most premium and advanced modern hearing aids can now can automatically adjust amplification parameters, directional focus, as well as digital noise reduction by monitoring the wearers ambient environment. Many patients choose to leave their hearing aid in this universal setting most of the time. The addition of manual programs can allow the wearer to personalize the hearing aid further to their own unique hobbies and lifestyle. Additional manual programs can include: outdoors, music, lecture, theatre, transport, etc
Bluetooth / Wireless Connectivity
The ability to connect directly and wirelessly to a sound source such as a home phone, cellphone, tablet, TV, remote microphones, or car audio is very helpful. Some hearing aids now have the ability to automatically connect and stream from Apple and Android products acting like wireless headphones. The wearers cellphone, when the correct app is downloaded, can act as a remote control and can be used to adjust volume level of the hearing aids, change user’s listening programs, and act as a equalizer for tonality.
Many modern hearing aids are equipped with a telecoil, a small copper wire that picks up sound directly from phones and public address systems, which improves clarity. Conference rooms, concerts, museums, and even subway trains and stations are often equipped with what’s called an audio induction loop or hearing loop, which is a cable that circles a room and emits a magnetic signal that’s picked up by the telecoil.
Such technologies help people – especially those with moderate to profound hearing loss – better understand what they’re hearing by reducing background noise and reverberation.
Many modern hearing aids have a directional microphone, which helps you converse in noisy environments by making the audio signal in front of you louder than the noise in the rear or from the sides. Nearly all hearing aids with this feature can automatically switch between directional and omnidirectional settings depending on the environment. Advanced versions can focus behind the listener and/or to the listener’s side.
Feedback suppression, or digital feedback reduction, helps squelch unpleasant sounds that can occur when inserting a hearing aid. Most aids have this feature, which is useful for minimizing feedback if you’re close to the telephone or if the aid is slightly dislodged from your ear when you move your jaw. It can also allow for fitting with much more venting, to improve comfort and sound quality in listeners who have good hearing in the lowest pitches.
Digital Noise Reduction
Digital noise reduction in more advanced hearing aids acts on the incoming signal reducing gain for frequency bands with steady state or constant noise while preserving the fluctuating speech signal. Some hearing aid manufacturers use sophisticated noise reduction algorithms to remove intense steady noise such as turbulent wind noise which can be especially bothersome for hearing aid wearers.
Other Features Worth Noting
Most aids have low-battery indicator sounds, wax guards to prevent buildup, and automatic and manual volume control. Another newer feature is direct audio input, which allows users to connect directly to a television or another electronic device. At the higher end, Bluetooth wireless technology allows users to stream music and calls from computers, smartphones and TVs directly through their hearing aid. Some aids have frequency lowering technology (for those with hearing problems in the highest pitches) and accessories such as remote microphones, advanced smartphone remotes and more.