The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) have reported that nearly 30 million people in the United States could benefit from hearing aids. However, only a small percentage of people with hearing loss actually use them: less than 30% of adults aged 70 and older, and just 16% of people aged 20 to 69.
Kivoney Mehrer, an authority and renown hearing instrument specialist for Fairway Hearing in Millvile says “Hearing aid technology is so much more advanced than it was 10 years ago and we have introduced some exceptionally high-tech features within our hearing aids right now that it makes a huge difference for people, and it helps improves their quality of living”.
Mr Mehrer went on to say that the range of hearing aids and the features available in 2022 are so much more liberating than they were years ago.
Here are some of the most exciting advances in hearing aid technology.
A common problem for hearing aid users is having to change the small batteries that make them work, especially for older people with dexterity problems. The good news is that now, we have rechargeable hearing aids: “They recharge overnight, the same way you would charge your mobile phone. Then, the hearing aids can be used all day long and the charge lasts for up to 30 hours.
Some of the new hearing aids can connect wirelessly to iPhone and Android devices, providing many additional benefits. First of all, someone who wears hearing aids can hear better when talking on the phone. With the connection to the smartphone, the clarity of speech is improved.
Another benefit of going wireless is that users can download an app that allows them to adjust their hearing aids in different circumstances (hearing aid companies have their own apps that work in a similar way). If you’re in a noisy restaurant, for example, you can tell the device where you are and it will automatically adjust to block out background noise and make it easier for you to hear the conversation at your table (background noise is the biggest problem for people with hearing loss).
The technology also makes it possible to stream sound from TVs and other devices to hearing aids.
This 3D app from GN Hearing allows hearing aid users to communicate with their audiologist and get a fitting without having to go to the office. You submit a description of the problem, and the audiologist submits detailed settings to the app; then you place the headset near the phone and press a button to install the settings. “This is especially helpful for people who live far from the doctor’s office,” says Kate Carr, president of Hearing Industries of America, the national trade association for hearing aid manufacturers.
Many people who wear hearing aids complain about the sound of their own voice. Sometimes this is due to occlusion, an increase in the volume of the wearer’s voice when the ear canal is blocked by a hearing aid. Other times hearing aids can create an unnatural perception of a person’s voice. It is important to address both issues because patients may not want to wear hearing aids if they do not like the sound of their own voice.
According to research from the University of Northern Colorado Audiology Clinic, Signia’s new technology, called Own Voice Processing (OVP), can help. Hearing aids with this technology can detect the user’s voice and process it separately from external sounds, which are not affected.
The risk of falling, for people with hearing problems is 300% higher, says Tom Wiffler, CEO of UnitedHealthcare Specialty Benefits. “There are now hearing aids that can detect and make a sound when a person is about to fall,” he explains. The technology—found in Starkey’s Livio AI device—can’t prevent someone from falling, but it can automatically notify up to three emergency contacts that the person has fallen and let them know where they are.
For further information about Fairway Hearing visit their website: https://www.fairwayhearing.com/