Posted on Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hearing Health Professionals Answer Your Burning Questions!

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This year People Hearing Better asked its community what top hearing aid questions they most needed answered. A majority of respondents wanted to know how to hear better in a noisy situation and how to determine what hearing aid was right for them. Well, we've sought out the professionals and have answers to all your burning hearing aid questions!

We sent our communities most requested hearing aid questions to a group of different audiologist and asked them to please answer the ones that they found most relevant. We've included the answers we received back below. Willingly and openly sharing their knowledge on these questions was an incredibly kind and generous thing to do and we sincerely thank Suzette Pace Au.D. of Cortland Hearing Aids, Robbi Hershon Au. D., CCC-A of The Hearing Group, and Elizabeth Protti-Patterson Au.D. of REM Audiology for taking the time to inform and care for our People Hearing Better community!

Suzette Pace, Au.D. of Cortland Hearing Aids
Suzette Pace, Au.D.Suzette Pace, Au.D.
Suzette received her doctorate degree from PCO School of Audiology, in 2006. She received her master’s degree in Audiology from Syracuse University in 1997. She has worked as a clinical Audiologist since 1999 and is a New York State licensed audiologist and hearing aid dispenser. Dr. Pace provides hearing evaluations for all ages and will assist you with your hearing needs.
How can I hear better in a noisy situation?
Hearing in noisy situations can be difficult for people with normal hearing. People with a hearing loss struggle even more. Hearing aid technology today can help amplify important speech information without amplifying the noise. It is important to know that the noise cannot be eliminated, but rather the speech can be enhanced in the presence of noise through directional microphones and noise management systems within the hearing aid. Individuals also need to be aware of their listening environments and situate themselves appropriately. For example, in a restaurant ask to sit away from the kitchen where there may be more activity.
How do I know which hearing aid is right for me?
A person’s hearing loss, lifestyle and budget should be considered when deciding on what hearing aid is right. Physical and mental health should also be taken in to consideration as dexterity will determine the ease of inserting a hearing aid, and memory loss/dementia will negatively effect the overall success with a hearing aid if batteries aren’t being changed as needed or if the aid isn’t being cleaned regularly.
What's new and necessary in today's hearing aids?
The number one complaint of hearing aid users is background noise. Therefore, a noise reduction system is essential. Depending on the individual’s lifestyle will depend on whether or not you will need a hearing aid that will perform automatically throughout the day if in noisy environments frequently, or perhaps a system that can be manually controlled as needed.
How do hearing aid algorithms work?
Algorithms determine how the hearing aid will process the incoming sound to achieve the desired results for the individual wearer. Based on feedback from the hearing aid wearer, this can often be fine-tuned or tweaked if needed to improve overall satisfaction.

The Hearing GroupThe Hearing Group Robbi Hershon, Au. D., CCC-A(NJ Aud Lic. #451, NJ HAD Lic. #917) of The Hearing Group
With over 44 years of combined experience, many seek out the attentive care of our hearing doctors. New Jersey patients note that our patient care is uniquely tailored and reflects the professional concern and attention required to allow each person to attain their goal of improved quality of life through better hearing. The services provided by our audiologists include audiological evaluations, aural rehabilitation including hearing aid dispensing and repairs, and our Complete Hearing Health Care.

How do I know which hearing aid is right for me?
When fitting a hearing aid in our practice we just don’t look at the audiogram. We look to the patient who is seeking our advice. In addition to the test results we look at the patient’s hearing issues, needs, wants, lifestyle and of course budget. Once we have taken all this into consideration we can make a recommendation which we feel best suits the individual.

What's new and necessary in today's hearing aids?
The newest recommendation we make for many off our patients is the use of Bluetooth enabled assistive listening devices. It truly helps with some of the biggest communication complaints we hear such as hearing conversation in a noisy restaurant, talking on the cell phone or land line or watching television.

Elizabeth Protti-Patterson, Au.D.Elizabeth Protti-Patterson, Au.D. Elizabeth Protti-Patterson (NJ HA #547, PA #496), Au.D. of REM Audiology
Elizabeth has a master of science degree from the University of Oklahoma Medical Center and a doctorate of audiology from Salus University. With over 35 years of experience in the area of audiology, she has developed an expertise in the areas of hearing aids and diagnostic testing for all age clients.

How do I know which hearing aid is right for me?
Answer: Hearing aid recommendations must be customized to your lifestyle. You may not need the most expensive hearing aid offered, but you should also be cautious about looking at hearing aid technology above the basis level of hearing aid. Any person who interacts with people in any type of noisy environment.... even a senior citizen whose only social contact involves people in a dining room.... will benefit from higher end technology that offers sophisticated directional microphones and inter-ear technology.

The difference between levels of hearing aids involves speech in noise ability. The difference between the basic level hearing aids and advanced or mid level hearing aid technology is huge. The difference between the advanced/mid level hearing aid technology and premium hearing aids is not as drastic.

Always always always be sure your hearing aid specialist demonstrates hearing aid technology in the presence of noise. If your speech in noise difficulties present as more than a moderate difficulty that can be addressed by the automatic directional microphones, have your audiologist demonstrate how speech in noise deficits can be significantly resolved by using remote microphones paired to the hearing aid via bluetooth technology. It is indeed an exciting time to consider hearing technology.

What's new and necessary in today's hearing aids?
What is old and necessary in today's hearing aids in my opinion is the telephone coil. More and more public places and theaters are putting in loops which interface with the magnetic telephone coil in hearing aids. What does that mean for the consumer? Simply pushing the program button into the M/T program will enable the client to hear audio directly into his hearing aids. Speech intelligibility in noise is significantly improved. Think about the beauty of hearing the dialogue in a theater performance go directly into your hearing aid!!!!

Other essential features include:
1. automatic directional microphones preferably in each channel
2. Feedback cancellation without reducing hearing aid gain i.e. Phase reversal.
3. Inter ear communication is transitioning into an essential. If a hearing aid can determine its matrix based upon how much noise and speech is directed into its partner in the opposite ear, listening is noise is facilitated. Some hearing aids have this function but need to be accessed manually. Automatic function is found in some of today's premium hearing aids.

The above features are considered the basic “cake mix”. Icing on the cake consists of bluetooth pairing to cell phones . TV and other bluetooth devices. Programming features for wind noise, transient type sounds such as dishes and silverware clanking, and automatic music programs may or may not be essential depending upon the client's lifestyle.

How do hearing aid algorithms work?
Today's hearing aids are sophisticated audio processing computers. Since they are computers, the instrument can analyze millions bits of sound in micro seconds. If the analysis reveals significant noise levels and certain types of sound, certain algorithms which determine the hearing aid matrix are activated. For example, if noise levels are intense, comfort in noise setting can automatically be activated. If the input is music, a linear music algorithm which preserves the fidelity of music is activated. If the hearing aid analyses wind type noise, algorithms which reduce the intensity of wind while preserving speech are activated.

Algorithms result in automatic functions for the hearing aid user which optimize auditory enjoyment.

If you'd like to learn more about hearing aids or have your hearing aid questions answered, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health professional and don't live near any of these wonderful providers click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

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