A frequent comment we hear from patients is that they just want a simple hearing aid and they don’t need all the “bells and whistles.” But, what are the “bells and whistles?”
I think most people are referring to Bluetooth; however, almost every hearing aid on the market today has Bluetooth capability. This allows for several things. First and foremost, it is the means in which we can connect the hearing aids to our computer in order to program them to a patient’s specific hearing loss and hearing needs. Bluetooth also allows for patients to connect to other devices e.g. their cell phones. Bluetooth must be in the hearing aids to allow us to program them, but if the patient chooses, we do not need to activate it to connect to other devices.
The main “bells and whistles” are the features in the hearing aids. These features include:
- The capability to self-adjust for acoustic environment in order to minimize background noise
- Focus on speech
- Soften loud sounds and boost soft speech sounds
- Helping the patient to hear more clearly but with less listening effort.
These features also give us the ability to adjust your hearing aids through software to meet your specific hearing requirements and match the frequency response to your current hearing levels.
Every one of the major hearing aid manufacturers offer several different levels of technology. Premium hearing aids offer the best features for noise management, provide the best clarity of speech, and allow them to self-adjust in most situations. As the hearing aids go down in technology level, more and more of these features are taken away. As a result, less background noise is filtered out making it harder for the user to understand in noisier environments. The patient may also need to adjust the volume of the hearing aids frequently to help them to hear better in different listening environments.
We do recommend that every patient get the best hearing aid that is within their budget to allow them to hear well in all listening situations as well as allow them to hear with minimal listening effort.
By Karen Lemme, Au.D.