Advances in all areas of technology are moving forward at a rapid rate and hearing aids are no exception. We spoke with our own clinical audiologist and hearing aid specialist, Lisa Spiegel, AuD to learn more.
Today’s Hearing Aids
Today’s hearing aids look better than ever. They’re smaller and sleeker and often nearly invisible. A lot of effort has gone into making them more cosmetically appealing. Although this is important when it comes to an individual accepting amplification, what’s inside the hearing aid is even more important. In the last few years, the advances in hearing aid technology have been remarkable.
All hearing aids produced today are digital, which means there is a small computer chip inside. The chips have gotten smaller, which is one reason the hearing aids have gotten smaller. Even more important, the processing power and speed have increased. The hearing aids can listen to the environment and make very rapid changes based on what’s going on in the environment around the hearing aid user. In addition, when an individual uses two hearing aids, the devices can often communicate with each other to help maintain balance in the sound, optimize the listening environment, and ultimately provide a more natural sound quality.
Hearing Aid Battery Advances
“We’ve been charging our phones and tablets for years, so patients often ask about the ability to charge a hearing aid rather than change batteries every week or two,” Dr. Spiegel explained. “For years, I’ve had to explain that we did not have many options for this, but that has changed recently. We now have several manufacturers offering a rechargeable option and the number is growing quickly. The hearing aids can charge in a matter of hours and, depending on the use, can easily hold a charge all day. They’re currently only available in certain styles, but we hope to see a change in this in the future as well.”
Hearing Aids and Cell Phones
The use of cell phones has increased dramatically over the last 10 years and most people today have some type of cell phone, so you can easily stay connected with family and friends. More and more people are also using their cell phones to listen to music or watch television and movies. For several years, hearing aid manufacturers have offered a way to connect your cell phone to your hearing aids through an accessory. This allows you to hear the phone calls as well as the media content you’re listening to through the hearing aids, which takes advantage of the settings in the hearing aids.
For many, having an extra accessory to keep track of is a bother. Fortunately, there are several hearing aid manufacturers that now offer hearing aids that directly connect to your phone through Bluetooth technology which eliminates the need to have an accessory for phone use. Currently, most of the newer hearing aids using Bluetooth technology are only available for iPhones, however.
“I’ve been working with hearing aids for over 20 years and I’ll admit that at times, I wonder if we’ve reached the boundaries of what we can do with hearing aid technology,” Dr. Spiegel says. “Fortunately, I know that the hearing aid manufacturers are already researching the next breakthroughs in hearing science and technology and I am excited to see what’s next on the horizon. Although hearing aids can never completely restore the hearing that has been lost, they’re far superior to the technology that was available when I started fitting hearing aids. It’s safe to say they’re not your grandmother’s hearing aids.”
If you think you may need a hearing aid or if your current hearing aid is getting old and you’d like to see what new devices are available, please visit Florida Hospital Audiology or call 407-303-8080 to speak with one of our specialists to learn more.