Hearing Aids How Tos

Settings for Different Environments

Moving from room to room has never sounded so good.

girl with a hearing problem

In the past, you needed to push a button on your hearing aids to select a program appropriate to your surroundings. With today’s advanced digital hearing aids, these programs switch automatically based on an analysis of environmental sounds and previous manual adjustments made using a separate remote or smartphone app. Your hearing care professional will set up several of these programs at your fitting and tweak them as necessary during follow-up visits.

Tools that help you hear wherever you are

Whether you are in a restaurant, on a plane, or at a football game, your hearing aids will learn to make the right decision for your hearing loss so you don’t have to. Much like performance vehicles that respond to changes in terrain and climate, hearing aids can have different options to help you hear clearly in almost any environment. These features typically include the following:

Volume controls

While most hearing aids adjust volume automatically to prevent amplifying dangerously loud sounds, you can also make manual adjustments based on your particular sensitivities. This can be especially useful in places like a library where it helps to have peace and quiet, or in a lecture hall where hearing the speaker clearly is essential.

Programs for different situations

Hearing aids can register the competing frequencies of sound in any environment and determine automatically which ones to filter out and which to enhance. This automatic equalizer eliminates complications regarding hearing speech in noise or wind, a common problem with older hearing aid models. Wearers can also make manual adjustments using an external device and save their most used programs, making it easy to switch between listening environments. In addition, features like wind reduction and feedback suppression make it possible for every listening situation to offer the same level of comfort and clarity.

Telecoils (T-coils) and T-switches

A T-coil converts magnetic signals from a telephone into an amplified acoustic signal received directly by your hearing aids. Most modern hearing aids have switchless T-coils that automatically take you into a telephone setting just by holding a phone to your ear.

If your hearing aid has a T-coil, you can enjoy the benefits of FM and induction loop systems at movie theaters, sporting events, and more. By turning to the “T” setting in the presence of a loop channel, your hearing aids can pick up audio from the venue and stream it directly into your ears, all without the use of an additional assistive listening device. For a list of locations that offer loop systems and other services for the hard of hearing, click here.

loop_graphic_NYT
Source: The New York Times

Directional microphones

The problem with hearing in crowds isn’t the noise itself, but rather the volume of speech in comparison to the noise. By responding to the movement of your head, directional microphones suppress background sounds that you don’t want to pay attention to while remaining sensitive to sounds you do, such as speech. This can greatly improve the signal-to-noise ratio and allow you to hear someone more clearly in a noisy environment while filtering out background distractions. Some hearing aids automatically select the microphone mode that offers the best speech intelligibility regardless of the direction from which that speech is coming, enabling you to hear someone speaking behind you or to your side as clearly as if they were standing right in front of you.

Examples of listening environments

Some of the most common listening environments addressed by today’s hearing aid technology include:

  • Watching TV or talking on the phone — Telecoils, automated phone programs, and Bluetooth® compatibility all help make taking a phone call or tuning into your favorite program as hands-free and convenient as possible.
  • Noisy spaces where conversation is present — Directional microphones, binaural processing, and algorithms that reduce wind and noise all make conversation easier to understand by reducing unwanted sounds and enhancing speech. This can help boost understanding during workplace conferences and presentations, while in a restaurant or other crowded space.
  • Listening to music — Most hearing aids recognize when music is present and can adjust their listening settings automatically. If high-fidelity audio is important to you, be sure to ask for a hearing aid that can detect a wide range of frequencies and sonic textures.
  • Outdoor activities — Water-resistant hearing aids are available for people who need a device that can brave the elements. Look for a robust device that is labeled with an IP67 or IP68 rating to indicate resistance against intrusion by water, perspiration, dust, and dirt.

Contact a hearing care professional

Thanks to advances in hearing aid technology, clear hearing and better understanding are possible no matter what environment surrounds you. To learn more about hearing aids and the different settings they accommodate, schedule an appointment with a hearing care professional using our online locator today.