Hearing aids aren’t just available in a wide range of sizes and styles; they can also accommodate a variety of accessories. Deciding which, if any, will benefit you can be tricky. You may want to speak with your audiologist to learn more about any particular product.
Hearing Aid Accessories
Some of the more popular hearing aid accessories include:
TV streamers allow you to stream clear sound from your television straight to your hearing aids, meaning you can hear your favorite program while your friends and family are able to listen at a comfortable volume. The streamer connects directly to your television, stereo or computer and turns your hearing aids into wireless headphones at a range of more than 20 feet.
Remotes offer convenient control over the settings on your hearing aids, so you don’t have to worry about making adjustments to programming, settings or power manually. Remote controls can be small handheld devices kept in a pocket or purse—and many hearing aids can even be controlled directly through your smartphone using a simple app.
Microphones are very small, subtle devices that are designed to be placed near a speaker or conversation partner to gather sound that is then wirelessly streamed directly to your ears. Microphones are helpful when you need to carry on a conversation successfully in a loud environment like a restaurant or sporting event. They’re also helpful in meetings, lectures, classrooms and other similar settings.
Make and receive hands-free phone calls from any modern smartphone. Streamers transmits a call directly to both of your hearing aids, while its built-in microphones clearly catch what you are saying making everyday connections for family, friends and business activities easier and more practical.
Direct Bluetooth Hearing Aid Options
Bluetooth works by utilizing high frequency radio waves to transmit data between electronic devices. Bluetooth-enabled devices contain a tiny computer chip that contains a radio receiver, and software that enables connectivity with compatible products.
Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids are able to stream signals from other electronic devices directly to your hearing aids, which allows you to stay connected more easily and provides a more personalized listening experience.
Alerting devices hook up to telephones, alarm clocks, doorbells and other electronic devices. They alert you through a loud sound or flashing light, making you aware of an incoming phone call, a visitor at the door, etc.
Most hearing aids use disposable zinc-air batteries that are color- and number-coded for easy replacement. The type of battery needed depends on the style and size of your hearing aids and includes: 5 (red), 10 (yellow), 13 (orange), 312 (brown) and 675 (blue). On average, batteries last five to seven days depending on the size and style of your hearing aids, your degree of hearing loss, the amount of time your hearing aids are used and your listening environment.
Most drugstores carry replacement batteries; they can also be purchased from your audiologist at The ENT Center of Central Georgia or ordered online.
Assistive Listening Devices
Assistive listening devices (ALDs) are portable systems that help individuals with hearing loss communicate more effectively. Unlike hearing aids, which amplify sounds, ALDs work by separating speech from background noise. This allows the person with the hearing impairment to hear more clearly.
Some ALDs are used in conjunction with hearing aids, while others work as standalone devices. ALDs are useful in a number of situations, primarily those involving distance, poor acoustics and noisy backgrounds.
There are several different types of ALDs available, for both large facilities and personal use. Some focus on amplifying speech, while others utilize computer programs to convert text to speech. Some of the different types include:
FM systems rely on radio signals to transmit amplified sounds directly to your hearing aid. They consist of a microphone, transmitter and receiver, and are used in a variety of public places such as classrooms, restaurants, movie theaters and churches.
The microphone is worn by the person speaking (or placed in close proximity to the sound source) and the signal is broadcast from the transmitter to the receiver, which is tuned to a specific frequency.
Personal amplifiers are essentially small FM systems used in smaller, more intimate settings where radio signals are less effective; they are often used when watching television, traveling by car or spending time outdoors.
The microphone is built directly into the unit, and is often directional, allowing you to aim it in the direction of the sound source in order to pick up the signal most effectively.
Infrared systems work on the same principle as FM systems, but use infrared light instead of radio waves to transmit sound. The transmitter converts sound signals into light and beams those to the receiver, which then translates the light signal back into sound.
An advantage to infrared systems is the fact that their signal is unable to pass through walls as it does with FM systems, eliminating competing broadcasts that might hamper the listener and preventing confidential information from being disseminated. They are particularly useful in courtrooms and large movie theaters.
Hearing loop, or induction loop, systems utilize electromagnetic energy to transmit sound directly to your hearing aid or cochlear implant. They consist of a sound source (public address systems are popular), an amplifier, a loop of wire and a receiver or telecoil (t-coil), a tiny wireless receiver built into many devices.
When you are in close proximity to the loop, you will receive clear sound free of background noise. Hearing loops can be connected to all types of audio sources, and are often set up in public facilities such as airports, churches and lecture halls.
Call The ENT Center of Central Georgia at (478) 743-8953 for more information or to schedule an appointment.