For years, hearing aid wearers struggled with volume control on their devices. One second they turn the volume up to hear someone speaking, and the next they’re trying to turn it back down to avoid loud, unexpected noise. Hearing aids come in a variety of shapes and sizes with various functions, but luckily over the past few years, the technology behind them has also advanced to the point where they automatically adjust to any auditory situation.
What does a hearing aid do?
Hearing aids serve a pretty simple purpose: they aim to improve speech sounds and quality of life by making better communication possible. But the answer doesn’t lie in simply amplifying sounds; our ears are complicated organs that perform complex actions, and it’s not always easy for devices to mimic the ears exactly.
Early hearing aids amplified sounds – all sounds, that is. That means you could hear the person talking right in front of you in a bar, while also hearing every other conversation going on around you at the same time. Background noises, especially, wind, were the bane of the existence of many hearing aid wearers, since all those sounds were extremely distracting and overwhelming.
The hearing aids of today
Modern hearing aids have worked to solve the problems of their predecessors while also adding new features. Most hearing aids today are like mini-computers that digitize audio signals and have automatic hearing controls, which help wearers engage in conversations – even in noisy places like a bar or restaurant. Hearing aids can also filter out sounds like wind noise and even help focus in on a particular sound, like one person in a group conversation.
One of the best features of new hearing aids is Bluetooth connectivity. This allows hearing aids to connect directly to the source of a sound, like a smartphone, car radio, or television, without the need to have the sound come through multiple devices.
When should you consider getting a hearing aid?
Unfortunately, hearing aids carry a stigma that causes many people to avoid wearing them, even if they would greatly benefit from them. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Hearing Loss, nearly 15% of adults in America – roughly 37.5 million people – have some form of hearing loss. That number increased when you add in children who have hearing loss in one or both ears. Yet the NIDCD reports that nearly 29 million people could benefit from wearing hearing aids and that only 16% of adults who should use a hearing aid between the ages of 20 and 69 have ever used one.
There are some telltale signs you can look out for before you make an appointment to get your ears checked for hearing aids. Asking others to repeat themselves, turning the volume up on the TV, or pretending to follow along in conversations are all warning signs that you may have hearing loss. In addition, if you ever hear a ringing or whooshing sound in your ears, you may have a condition known as tinnitus, which is closely connected with hearing loss. Tinnitus symptoms can range from a mild annoyance to a debilitating condition that keeps you up at night and increases your stress and anxiety levels. If you’re suffering from any of these symptoms and feel like you may have some level of hearing loss, it may be a good idea to schedule an appointment with a hearing specialist to get your ears checked out.
Ready to take the next step and find the hearing aid that’s right for you? Contact a hearing specialist near you and schedule a consultation to learn more about hearing aids and which ones might be best for your situation.