These Aren't Your Parents' Hearing Aids!!!
Until fairly recently, hearing aids have had a bad reputation. How many times have I heard a patient or their family say something like...“they amplify everything, including the noise”, “they are uncomfortable”, “they look horrible”, “they aren't effective” or “don't they whistle all the time when they're in your ears”. Before the advent of fully digital hearing aids, many of these complaints or issues had some validity. There were no sophisticated adaptive directional microphone systems, digital signal processing-including noise reduction and feedback suppression, wireless Bluetooth audio streaming, personal FM systems, etc. All we had were basic amplifiers with limited ability for automatic adjustment. That's why users would be constantly adjusting the volume control on their hearing aids. They would have to remove their hearing aid to use the phone, due to the whistling or feedback. Hearing aids were often the 'weak link in the chain' relative to better hearing. And, quite honestly, they looked big and clunky.
Today's fully digital hearing aids have incredible processing power and are essentially mini-computers for your ears, capable of processing hundreds of millions of operations per second and analyzing the user's environment tens of times per second! Almost all hearing aids now support wireless streaming from cell phones (especially iPhones), TVs, tablets/laptops, etc...anything with Bluetooth. Sophisticated directional microphone systems and noise reduction sound processing have been proven to help users understand better and hear more comfortably in noisy, more challenging environments. With the advent of 'receiver/speaker-in-the-ear' technology (also known by the acronyms RIC or RIE), hearing aids are no longer the big, clunky and obtrusive devices of yesteryear. The newest RIC/RIE hearing aids offer incredibly discreet, comfortable and powerful hearing benefit in all but the most challenging listening situations. And for those most challenging situations (really noisy restaurants, parties, etc.), we now have assistive devices that take the already amazing benefits of hearing aids alone to greater levels. Nowadays, honestly, the weak link in the 'better hearing' chain is often the ear itself. So if you or someone you love and/or respect is struggling with poor hearing and impaired communication, take the proper steps to addressing the problem. Make an appointment to see an audiologist for a hearing test. There really are fantastic options to significantly reduce or essentially eliminate the problems associated with hearing loss. They are are incredibly comfortable and nearly invisible. They certainly are not your parents' hearing aids!