Hearing Aid Features That Help With Ambient Noise – Audiologist Serving Oroville CA

What hearing aid features are available to help with ambient noise? – audiologist Oroville CA

Many people with hearing loss struggle with the issue of ambient noise. This becomes a problem in a noisy room, such as at a restaurant or at a party. Those with hearing loss may have a particularly difficult time distinguishing the one voice they wish to listen to. For those without hearing loss, this is usually something that they do without even thinking about it. However, it becomes a major challenge for those who have lost some of their hearing.

Because this is such a common struggle, hearing aids have been designed with several different features that can help with this issue.

Directional microphone – audiologist Oroville CA

The standard microphone on a hearing aid picks up sound from all directions. In some situations, this is desirable. For instance, while driving, it’s important to be able to hear sounds coming from all directions. However, at a part, this can become a problem, as the microphone picks up conversations from all around the wearer.

To solve this problem, many hearing aids have a directional microphone. In most cases, this points directly in front of the wearer, and it preferentially amplifies the sounds coming from that direction. When the wearer wants to have a conversation with someone, the directional microphone can be switched on, making the conversation easier. (Some hearing aids will recognize speech signals and amplify them regardless of direction. This can be useful in certain situations, such as when you’re sitting in the front seat of a car and you want to talk to someone in the back seat.)

T-coil – audiologist Oroville CA

Talking on the telephone can be a major challenge for people with hearing aids. Often, there is feedback between the phone and the hearing aid, resulting in that high-pitched whining sound that most of us are familiar with. This issue can make talking on the phone with a standard hearing aid nearly impossible.

The telecoil, or T-coil, is a useful feature that helps to address this issue. A T-coil allows the hearing aid to connect directly with certain devices. When the T-coil is turned on, the hearing aid microphone turns off, so it stops picking up sounds from the environment. Instead, the hearing aid picks up a magnetic signal from the device, which it turns into sound to play into the wearer’s ear. The device uses an induction loop to project an electromagnetic signal that a hearing aid T-coil can pick up and translate into sound. The wearer can easily turn the T-coil on and off using a small switch on the hearing aid.

Where can you use a T-coil? – audiologist Oroville CA

All telephones in the U.S. are required to be compatible with a T-coil. For those who wear a hearing aid with a T-coil, this makes talking on the telephone much easier. The T-coil can also be used in other situations in which you may want to be listening to a particular sound. For example, many auditoriums have an induction loop that allows your hearing aid to directly connect to the microphone, so you can tune into the speaker’s voice without being distracted by the many other ambient noises present. Lecture halls, churches, concert halls, and meeting rooms also often have induction loops that work with a hearing aid T-coil.

Using a T-coil can turn having a hearing aid into an advantage. Wherever you’re sitting in the room, you can hear the speaker clearly and without the distraction of ambient noises. In fact, people with normal hearing can also buy a T-coil to allow them the same advantage! (They can hear the sound through earbuds or headphones.)

Using the T-coil and microphone together – audiologist Oroville CA

In some cases, you may want to use the T-coil and simultaneously hear sounds around you. For example, when watching television with your spouse, you may want to be able to hear the TV audio and also hear your spouse talking about the show. This is why hearing aids have a feature that allows both the microphone and the T-coil to be switched on at the same time. When this is used, the input is 50/50 from each source.

Direct audio input – audiologist Oroville CA

Some devices, such as smartphones, have a feature called direct audio input. This allows the device audio play directly into a hearing aid. You simply plug your hearing aid into the device (e.g., using the headphone jack) using a special cable. This can allow you to focus on your music or podcast, even while you’re walking down a noisy street or riding the bus.

Direct audio input does involve the use of wires, which require the user to take care not to tangle or break them. However, it also has the advantage of being less susceptible to electromagnetic interference than a T-coil. Because of this, many people believe that it produces a better-quality sound. If you want the option of using direct audio input, choose a hearing aid that is compatible with this technology.

Advantages and disadvantages – audiologist Oroville CA

It may sound like all of these features are obvious benefits that everyone would want. However, not every hearing aid has all of these features, for a variety of reasons. For example, a T-coil is relatively large. A hearing aid that fits completely into the ear canal cannot include a T-coil because of its small size. You’ll have to decide for yourself which is more important to you. Do you prefer a hearing aid that is very discreet (nearly invisible), or a hearing aid that uses a T-coil to improve your ability to hear in certain situations?

Talk with your audiologist about your options for your hearing aids, and the various advantages and disadvantages of these options.

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