Sunday, July 27, 2008

Hearing Loss & Hearing Aids

Most men and many women have difficulty hearing by 75. Frequently their hearing loss is mainly in the higher pitches. The brain is said then to forget how to distinguish speech sounds. Any loss of hearing may be a safety hazard.

That means that most seniors will need hearing aids, way more than get them.

The impediment is often the cost or appearance of an aid, or just the plain inconvenience or difficulty in using them.

Although hearing aids do not correct hearing as glasses do for vision, there is no need to put up with many hearing aid problems of the past

There is no need to put up with: high cost, replacing batteries, whistling. Newer hearing aids can be tuned by the user to adjust sounds and pitch. Noise canceling can cut out background noise. Hearing aids can be out of sight behind your ear, if you like. They need not be molded, to save cost. The built-in mikes can be adjusted to surroundings or sound direction

It still does take a while to get accustomed to hearing aids. They need to fit in the ear with the ability to shut out unfiltered sound, yet allow enough airflow to cut out barrel noise or occlusion. There may be noise-reducing sleeves. It may take a while to find the right fit, which then will work well.

You still will not hear well in some environments.

If higher pitches are not being heard, you can find a place close to musical instruments or speaker. The high pitches, being shorter sound waves, just do not travel far.

Often the big enemy of hearing is low pitched noises which override higher pitch sounds or create high reverberation (echoing) in a room. There is no hearing aid yet which shuts out reverberation, although it would appear that this could be done via computer.

The heart of a hearing aid is the signal processor. When purchasing a hearing aid, check how recent the one is in the hearing aid. When I asked that question about an expensive aid the seller immediately admitted that a much cheaper competitor had a newer processor and she could not compete with it!!

Without a hearing aid, you can still adjust a newer television or MP3 player to your hearing with its equalizer. The equalizer can boost the ranges you do not hear well. You can also use noise-reducing wireless headphones, now extremely cheap.

Since most hearing loss is in the higher pitches, in a public room with a sound system it is simple enough to cut the bass and reverberation simply by adjusting the bass down and treble controls up, too often forgotten.