Hearing aid technology is changing at a rapid pace, with new, more sophisticated products being added to the market every few months.
With the hundreds of hearing aids available, it is important to consider several key features to help you and your hearing-care professional choose a hearing aid that suits your lifestyle and needs.
Modern hearing systems offer binaural performance, which means both the left and right devices form a single unit via a radio link, greatly enhancing spatial orientation. They achieve this by coupling the left and right hearing aids together via a radio signal. The devices are able to intelligently communicate and coordinate with each other.
Rechargeable hearing aids are becoming extremely popular due to the convenience of not needing to replace your hearing aid batteries every week. Rechargeable hearing aids are particularly useful for individuals who may have difficulty with inserting and removing tiny batteries. Rechargeable hearing aids are charged overnight and are ready for a full day’s use the following day.
Bluetooth compatibility and streaming
Many new hearing aids on the market are equipped with Bluetooth compatibility, which means that the hearing aid can connect via Bluetooth to a smartphone. This allows calls to be made, or answered, via your hearing aids (like a hands free headset but hearing through both ears) Your cell phone can also be used as a remote control and allows the hearing aid wearer to change the volume and programme (if available) settings with ease on their phone.
Connectivity has been taken one step further, in the form of direct streaming. Up until recently, in order to stream your phone calls or media from your cell phone to your hearing aids, an additional streaming device was needed as an interface. These days, more and more hearing aids are equipped with direct streaming abilities, eliminating the need for an additional streaming device and allowing the hearing aid user to experience incredibly clear phone calls and music listening. At present, most hearing aids stream only to iPhones, but will hopefully expand to Android phones in the near future.
If you do not have a smartphone but would still like to be able to change volume and programme settings easily, you can make use of a small remote control, which fits easily into a pocket.
Most hearing aids come in one of three “levels”: entry-level, mid-range and top of the range. Top of the range hearing aids are fully-featured, mostly with automatic settings which allow the hearing aid to adjust itself in challenging environments such as noisy restaurants. Mid-range and entry-level hearing aids have fewer features than the top of the range hearing aids and may not be as effective in challenging environments. Your hearing-care professional will be able to discuss the differences in technology with you more in-depth, as your lifestyle and listening needs will influence which technology level is more suitable for you.
It is always important to bear in mind that, despite their ground-breaking technology, hearing aids will never be able to replace the hearing of a normal ear. However, hearing aids are continuously advancing and they offer a life-changing solution to many individuals with all types of hearing loss.