Prescription Hearing Aids With Ongoing Support From a Hearing Care Professional
It is well documented that untreated hearing loss is linked to several health dangers, including higher rates of dementia, balance disorders, and depression, which experts link to the social isolation caused by hearing loss.
In addition to restoring relationships, hearing aids reduce the rate of cognitive decline, lower the chances of falling due to balance disorders, and can reduce your risk of stroke, peripheral vascular disease, and heart attack. Unfortunately, many individuals who may benefit from the use of hearing aids avoid them because of the outdated stigma attached to hearing aids like those worn by their parents or grandparents.
Advancements in digital technology, which transformed the bag phone into today’s smartphone, have also had a significant impact on the size and performance of today’s hearing aids. ZN Audiology in Brooklyn and Forest Hills, Queens, NYC, invites you to explore how advanced technology hearing aids are better able to address your hearing challenges and your quality of life than they did two decades ago.
9 Features of Advanced Technology Hearing Aids
More Hearing Aid Frequencies
More Hearing Aid Frequencies
Hearing aids are easy to understand if you think of them like a stereo system with an amplifier and a sound mixer. Older analog hearing aids amplified sound in two channels: high-pitched sounds (treble) and low-pitched sounds (bass), like a standard radio.
Modern hearing aids use digital sound processing, which allows for the addition of a large mixer board able to amplify a broader range of frequencies (up to 48) between the treble and bass frequencies. With more channels, hearing aids can be programmed to enhance the amplification of frequencies to address the specific hearing loss of the individual, producing natural and richer sound.
One of the most common complaints and sources of embarrassment for hearing aid wearers is the whistling or squealing sound known as feedback. Feedback occurs when amplified sound is picked up by the hearing aid’s microphone, similar to what happens on stage at a concert.
Digital hearing aids can detect the frequency and the wave shape of the sound that is causing the feedback and counteract it with a mirror image of that feedback within fractions of a second to eliminate the annoying and embarrassing whistling of a hearing aid.
In the past, hearing aid wearers would complain of a “talking in a barrel” sensation, similar to what you hear if you insert your fingers into your ears and listen to the sound of your own voice.
Thanks to improved feedback management, hearing aid manufacturers are now able to develop devices that do not obstruct the natural passage of sound through the ear canal, allowing non-amplified sounds to enter the ear naturally and providing ventilation for greater wearing comfort.
Older hearing aid models amplified all sounds equally, which meant that background noises, such as traffic, air conditioners, or ambient noise from a crowded room, were equal in volume to the conversations the wearer was trying to follow.
Digital hearing aids distinguish between speech and background noise and assign them different frequency bands (up to 48), amplifying the sounds you want to hear while reducing the amplification of background noise.
Conversations in a noisy environment can be a tremendous struggle. Logically, most conversations are with people you are facing, while distracting background noise comes from the sides and behind us. Modern digital hearing aids pinpoint the locations of sounds and conversation by using more than one microphone and gauging the time interval between them to determine which sounds to amplify.
Directional microphones are extremely beneficial in difficult situations like restaurants and are integral to improving a wearer’s ability to follow conversations in a noisy environment where multiple conversations are taking place.
Connectivity and Wireless Streaming
Connectivity and Wireless Streaming
A major innovation that involves improving your ability to use your hearing aids more comfortably and more effectively involves the capacity to link your hearing aids directly to your cell phone, digital stereo, television, and personal stereo (e.g., iPods and MP3 players). With Bluetooth wireless connectivity, hearing aid users can enhance the speech intelligibility and sound quality of their hearing aids when used with external devices.
Different listening environments call for different settings within hearing aids to maximize their effectiveness. In a quiet room, a wearer will not need the benefit of directional microphones and noise reduction to the same extent they would in a crowd at a football game or concert.
Advanced hearing aids allow the user to preprogram their hearing aids to address the needs of different sound environments and then change the settings by pressing a small button on their device or using a preselected setting from their smartphone.
Some of the most advanced hearing aids on the market today include artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance the hearing aid user’s experience. AI, or machine learning technology, allows your hearing aids to identify sound environment changes as you move from one location to another and then automatically adjust to a sound profile that best suits the new environment.
Recharging vs. Changing Batteries
Recharging vs. Changing Batteries
Changing hearing aid batteries, which may be required every week or every few days, is among the greatest inconveniences associated with hearing aids. Innovations in battery and charging technology have made it possible to produce hearing aids that can be recharged while you sleep, which provides enough energy to power your hearing aids all day long.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hearing Aids
How do I know if I need a hearing aid?
Those who are good candidates for hearing aids tend to experience one or several of the following issues:
- Muffled speech
- Aural stuffiness or fullness in the ears
- Difficulty understanding conversations on the phone
- Struggling to understand the voices of women and children
- Avoiding social events or busy restaurants because of annoying background noise
- Requiring a higher volume on the TV to hear it properly
- Often asking people to repeat themselves
Can hearing aids be repaired if they break or stop working?
Yes. The most common hearing aid issues involve moisture and wax buildup, but corrosion, shorts, and broken components are also common problems that can be addressed by a hearing aid repair specialist. Hearing aids usually come with a two-year warranty that covers repair or replacement costs if they are damaged beyond repair or lost.
Can hearing aids be worn while swimming or showering?
How do I clean and maintain my hearing aids?
How long does it take to adjust to wearing hearing aids?
The time necessary to adjust to hearing aids varies from one person to the next. With the help and support of your hearing care provider, you can shorten the duration of the adjustment period, but most individuals require less than 60 days to acclimate to their hearing aids.
How often do I need to replace my hearing aids?
Can hearing aids help with tinnitus?
Yes. By enhancing exterior sounds, hearing aids can reduce an individual’s awareness of their tinnitus. In addition, many modern hearing aids come with built-in tinnitus maskers or accompanying apps to help with tinnitus management.
Our Hearing Aid Selection Process
At ZN Audiology, we understand how dramatically a hearing impairment can affect relationships and the ability to enjoy life to the fullest, so our audiology team is fully dedicated to addressing our patients’ unique challenges and meeting their specific needs.
As an independent audiology and healthcare practice, we establish strong, long-term relationships with each patient, so you can count on us to provide superior hearing healthcare whether you are in need of custom hearing aids, hearing protection, or an assistive listening device.
In addition to providing a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation of your hearing in order to pinpoint the type and severity of your hearing loss, we program your hearing aids to specifically address your hearing impairment through a precise fitting process.
After fitting you with your hearing aids, we allow you a two-week trial period before you commit to buying them. In order to provide you with a broader choice to meet your unique needs and personal preferences, we partner with several brand-name manufacturers, such as:
Once you’ve made your decision to continue wearing your hearing aids, we provide ongoing counseling, troubleshooting, technical support, cleaning, maintenance, and repair to ensure that you get the most out of your investment into better hearing.
Concerned about being able to afford a new pair of hearing aids? Our Care Credit Program allows our patients to finance their hearing aids without paying interest for up to 12 months.
Hearing Aid Styles
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aid Styles
Considered the traditional hearing aid style, BTE hearing aids feature a processing unit that rests behind the ear, but they differ from older units because they use digital technology to process sound. Sound processed in the behind-the-ear unit is transmitted in different manners and delivered to the outer ear in various ways, depending on the hearing aid style. BTE hearing aids tend to have greater processing power than ITE devices and usually include manual programming buttons and/or dials.
BTE hearing aids tend to be the most powerful models. For anyone with a very severe to profound hearing loss, this style is still the best option. They offer directional microphones for improved hearing in background noise and built-in volume and program controls.
RIC hearing aids are the ideal solution for most first-time hearing aid users with a mild to moderate high-frequency hearing loss. Their nearly invisible open design offers unmatched comfort and a very natural sound.
In-the-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aid Styles
ITE hearing aids are a single component with processing and the speaker contained within the same housing. Different types of ITE hearing aids are distinguished by their size and where they are positioned in the ear canal. Among the advantages of ITE devices is the fact that they do not interfere with glasses, oxygen cannula, or headwear, and they can provide a more secure fit for more active individuals as well as provide greater wearing discretion.
Full Shell ITE
ITE hearing aids have the same fitting range and options as the ITC models but in a slightly larger design, making them easier to insert and remove. They also have a larger battery size, offering the longest battery life while making it easier to change batteries.
ITC hearing aids are slightly visible and are best suited for mild to severe hearing losses. ITC hearing aids typically include directional microphones, which provide better hearing in noise.
These are the smallest styles and are invisible or nearly invisible. They are best suited for mild to moderate hearing losses. Due to their small size, they require good dexterity and have a shorter battery life than some of the larger models.
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