Happy 2019! Actually is has been here for a few weeks now, but who’s counting? The new year is a time for reflection, looking at your life and determining where you can make improvements. If you are one of the nearly 48 million Americans in Santa Barbara and throughout America with hearing loss, this is the time to finally do something about it.
Most individuals with hearing loss will wait an average of seven years before seeking help. This is usually due to the fact that they don’t want to admit they actually have a problem and they think using a hearing aid will make them feel (and look) old.
Hearing Aid Technology
Admitting you have a problem is the first step on your road to recovery, and the hearing aids you think make you look old are not being produced anymore. The hearing aids of your parent’s or grandparents’ generation are nothing like the sleek models of today. Modern devices contain features like Bluetooth® compatibility for added versatility and ease of use.
For decades, hearing aids were strictly analog. But the digital revolution has taken over many areas formerly devoted to analog technology, and hearing aids are no exception. Digital programming works by converting sound waves into digital signals using digitized sound processing. A built-in computer chip determines whether the signal is speech or noise and converts it into a clear, amplified signal. Digital programming offers many benefits including improved speech quality, advanced programming options, a better fit, and a multitude of features that work to improve and enhance functionality of the hearing aids.
You would be hard pressed to find somebody who has never heard of Bluetooth technology®. This wireless communication platform is prevalent and used in a wide range of electronic devices, including computers, smartphones, and MP3 players, to exchange data. In essence, Bluetooth allows devices to communicate with one another. Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids let users stream signals from these and other electronic devices directly to their aids, improving their versatility and convenience. You can make phone calls, listen to music and watch television through your hearing aids, without disturbing other people around you.
One of the latest, and most welcome, breakthroughs in hearing aid technology is rechargeable batteries. Most of the major hearing aid manufacturers now offer rechargeable options or the ability to convert existing hearing aids into rechargeable ones, freeing users from the hassle of disposable batteries. Not only is this great for the environment; it saves you money in the long run. By utilizing lithium-ion batteries, you can get up to 24 hours of performance with a single charge, allowing you to wear your hearing aids all day long and not have to worry about having them run out of power during an especially inopportune moment. Many include disposable battery backups for an added measure of security.
Additional Hearing Aid Technologies
Other breakthroughs in hearing aid technology include the following:
- Gain processing, which reduces background and microphone noise for a clearer sound.
- Digital feedback reduction with built-in cancellation, which reduces or eliminates squelching and feedback.
- Digital noise reduction, which reduces background noises for better, more reliable speech recognition.
- Directional microphones, which provide better directionality by having one microphone focus on the sound source while the other decreases background noise.
- Automatic programming, which utilizes preset programs that automatically adapt to a range of different sound environments.
Why You Should Treat Your Hearing Loss with Hearing Aids
Using a hearing aid as a treatment for hearing loss has been linked to an overwhelming number of benefits.
Better Hearing Institute (BHI) conducted a study that provides extensive data about how much of a difference hearing aids can make.
Of the 2,000 hearing loss patients surveyed, 82 percent indicated they would recommend hearing aids to their friends and 70 percent reported an improved ability to communicate. In addition, more than four out of five people who use an aid to hear better are satisfied with their solution.
The study also concluded patients who used a hearing aid saw improvement in their:
- Sense of Humor
- Mental Health
- Emotional Health
- Physical Health
- Sense of Safety
- Feelings about self
- Sense of Independence
- Work Relationships
- Improved Emotional Well-Being
Those who treat their hearing loss are once again able to navigate the world on their own and overcome a reliance on others, thus regaining their sense of control. They have reduced periods of social isolation as well as healthier and longer-lasting relationships. These patients have also been shown to have higher self-esteem and quality of life than those who don’t.
Improved General Health
Those who treat their hearing loss experience a decrease in feelings of depression, anger and anxiety; they also see an improvement in their balance. Patients who choose to leave their hearing loss untreated are three times more likely to suffer physical injuries, especially falls. They are also at an increased risk of cognitive decline.
Improved Professional Success
Untreated hearing loss leads to difficulty concentrating, especially when communicating with others. It can also lead to reduced job performance and less monetary compensation. New research suggests that untreated hearing loss makes it harder for individuals to learn new things as it can lead to problems storing new information.
Ready to start hearing better in 2019? Contact your Santa Barbara audiologist today.