April of last year introduced a newcomer to the US hearing aid marketplace. You may have heard of the company before, since they have actually been around for a long time, and are well known in the acoustics and consumer electronics industries. You may even have a TV with the same name. Who is this “new guy on the block”? It’s Panasonic. That’s right. Panasonic is not just a TV, stereo and phone manufacturer anymore. The truth is, although Panasonic is just now entering the US market, their first hearing aids entered the Japanese marketplace in 1959. What that means for consumers is a new choice in hearing aid instrumentation with a company that has an already established and long-standing track record. Bottom line: Panasonic hearing aids are a high quality instrument from a trusted manufacturer, designed to deliver the convenience, performance and styles consumers have come to expect from a leading manufacturer.
The instrumentation offers some of the same “high end” technology benefits that the well-known manufacturers offer, such as adaptive directional microphones, wind noise suppression and feedback control. The casing designs are user-friendly and discreet—exactly what consumers are looking for. The JZ series is an interesting concept designed to offer best sound quality and advanced features in a body-worn case that can be manipulated by loved ones or caregivers. This means that if dexterity or vision is an issue or if a loved one is in need of continuous care, a family member or caregiver can instantly know what is happening in the hearing aid. Although there are only three models offered at the moment, Panasonic’s brand recognition and trusted electronic product lines assure that consumers can count on this manufacturer being a forerunner in the hearing aid industry in the years to come.
When you begin to experience trouble with your hearing, it can be a very lonely and isolating feeling. You may feel as though no one really understands what you’re going through. You probably have questions about what to do next, what to expect and what solutions are available. Your hearing healthcare provider and this website are a great resource to find the answers you’re looking for. If you’d like to get the opinion of others who experience hearing loss, the hearing aid forum is a great place to investigate. A forum will help you communicate with others in a safe environment where you don’t have to actually speak or hear; where you won’t be judged and you can feel free to ask questions and find answers from people who are experiencing similar issues.
A forum is a place where people gather to communicate with others that are experiencing a similar situation and then share information about those experiences. If you become a member of a forum, you’ll find it a great place to have many of your questions answered by others who have actually been in your shoes. In addition, you’ll find articles from manufacturers and hearing healthcare professionals, new hearing aid technology reviews and reviews of new assistive listening devices. Forums are a great place to keep a pulse on what’s available to you as a person with hearing loss.
A hearing aid forum will help you to find the answers to your questions and you may even acquire new friends in the process. By posting your questions in the forum, you’ll be able to get opinions and find articles to help you determine what treatment or solution options are available. Then, you can make an educated decision about what’s best for you.
All you need to get started in a forum is a computer with internet access. Visit www.hearingaidforums.com, www.hlnews.com, and www.allhearing.com for access to several great forums that will help you find the information you’ve been looking for. As always, we are here to answer your questions as well. Feel free to contact us by phone or email with your question and we’d be glad to help in any way we can.
When you’ve discovered that you have permanent hearing loss and the only solution is amplification, the next step is finding the best solution that will provide you with the greatest benefit. But getting the best benefit from hearing aids isn’t just about the sound quality or the “bells and whistles” the technology provides. The greatest benefit truly is in the changes you’ll see in what really matters: connecting to life and connecting to people.
Enhance Your Quality of Life
Untreated hearing loss can cause you to pull away from the things you love the most. You may not want to be involved in group situations anymore because it’s too difficult to hear and understand. Or, you might not do some of the things you love to do because you know you’ll have trouble hearing. Removing yourself from the daily activities you enjoy can cause depression, anxiety, isolation, and a host of other unpleasant emotions. The truth of the matter is, hearing aids improve the lives of those with hearing loss. Once you’ve decided to move forward with trying hearing aids, you can look forward to increased confidence, a greater sense of independence and easier communication.
Although hearing aids do not “fix” hearing loss, they can significantly improve your ability to hear and understand voices and other sounds in both quiet and noisy situations. This is helpful in personal, professional and social settings where the ability to hear clearly is important. How well you hear in different situations will depend on the type and severity of your hearing loss. We know that you hear with your ears, but you understand with your brain. Working with an experienced audiologist will make sure that you find the right choice for the type of hearing loss you have.
I can’t tell you how many times a patient has said, “if my wife isn’t with me to interpret, I miss the punch line every time!” There’s nothing worse than sitting with friends, enjoying a great glass of wine and you have to “fake” a hardy laugh at a joke you didn’t hear. While everyone laughs and enjoys themselves around you, you have to smile and nod, like you haven’t missed a thing. How frustrating! But, hearing aids will lessen your dependence on others. They will also give you a better sense of control over the events in your life.
Hearing loss can be a barrier to communicating effectively. Hearing aids can improve the relationships you share with family and friends. Your spouse can attest to the frustration it causes when you don’t hear clearly. You can decrease the effect your hearing loss has on others simply by wearing hearing aids.
You’ll feel more confident in professional and social situations when you can detect sounds at normal volume levels. When you don’t have to strain to hear and when you know you are hearing what others do, you can relax and enjoy yourself. Hearing aids can decrease the amount of energy it takes to listen and understand effectively.
Let’s face it: no one wants to wear hearing aids. But when you have taken the time to find the best solution for your hearing loss, social situations and listening environments, you’ll find that not only does the investment improve your hearing, it improves your quality of life. And that’s the best benefit of all.
Have you ever noticed that all new hearing aid technology is “revolutionary” or “improved” or “best in class”? Have you also noticed that advertisements all look fairly similar and use the same terms to describe their latest and greatest technology advancement, no matter who is doing the advertising? It gets tiring for Audiologists to hear the same thing about hearing aids every time something new comes out, too. And it becomes increasingly more difficult to explain the differences to our patients. It’s true that hearing aid technology changes rapidly. But are they really that different? Are they worth the investment of your time and hard-earned money? Every once in a while, a new hearing aid arrives that truly does deserve all the accolades. One such instrument is the Phonak Ambra, a digital hearing aid that is truly best-in-class.
Phonak, a Swiss company, actually launched the Ambra in October of 2010. Since then, it has received quite a bit of attention from patients and Audiologists alike. The Ambra has quite a number of innovative features that are intended to improve the wearer’s listening experience, no matter the environment. The goal is to provide ease of use while also improving sound quality and increasing the ability to hear in noise which then improves quality of life.
One of the more amazing features of this instrument is its ability to communicate from one hearing aid to the other. When two hearing aids are worn simultaneously, they communicate wirelessly with each other and “share” information about the listening environment. Each hearing aid also has a dual microphone system which allows it to selectively and automatically focus on sounds from most any direction. This allows the hearing aid to be very precise in its ability to distinguish important sounds, such as speech, from other background sounds that might make listening difficult.
Another feature speaks to one of the more common complaints people with hearing loss have: being able to hear on the phone. When using a telephone, the Ambra automatically picks up the sound wirelessly from the telephone. The sound is then wirelessly transmitted to both ears for an experience that is similar to hearing in high definition stereo. It makes sense that this works well. We all know we hear better with two ears. This feature is akin to listening to someone on speaker phone, without the interference from ambient noises. Patients often report that while using this feature, they have the strange experience of hearing the person on the other line like “they are inside my head.” But more importantly, hearing with both ears helps to improve speech understanding! The duo-phone feature is truly an amazing improvement in technology.
The feature list of the Ambra is impressive and continues with echo elimination, feedback cancellation, wind noise reduction and of course, exceptional noise reduction capabilities, Probably one of the more fascinating of the noise reduction features is called Zoom Control. This feature is often reserved for use in the car or when the person of interest is off to one side. With a push of a button, the wearer can zoom to the left or right, front or back, picking up the sound coming in to one ear and streaming it effortlessly to the other ear. This essentially eliminates background noise interference from the ear that is facing away from the communication partner. Patients have truly been amazed at how much better they can hear in the car!
The Ambra is available in the full range of models from the smallest completely-in-the-canal style to the powerful behind the hear versions. The most popular style of hearing instrument is the miniature behind the ear model, which delivers the sound to the ear by way of a receiver in the ear canal. Because the Ambra is available in so many models, most anyone experiencing hearing loss can benefit from this technology. Call our office today for a free, no-obligation demonstration of the Phonak Ambra and hear what you’ve been missing!
Hearing aids can seem complicated. Do you understand or even know about all of the features your hearing aids include? Do they have directional microphones? What about a volume control or wireless connectivity? If you are unsure, you’re not alone. I’m amazed at how many times patients aren’t even sure if their hearing aids have multiple programs. If they do, they’re often unsure of what those programs are or what they do. Many times, easily accessed features that are meant to improve hearing for the listener go unused. One of the more under-utilized features in most hearing aids is the telecoil or “t-coil.”
A t-coil consists of a tiny coil of wire wrapped around a metal core. The core will generate an electric current in the coil when it is in the presence of a magnetic field. It can act as an alternate or supplemental source for sound coming into a hearing aid. Normally, a hearing aid gathers sound through its microphone or microphones. It then amplifies that sound and sends it into the ear canal of the listener. When a telecoil is used as the input source instead, the hearing aid bypasses the microphone and picks up the electro-magnetic signal produced by a telephone or an assistive listening device, such as an FM system. Then, the hearing aid will amplify that signal and convert it to an audio signal. The result is a clear signal with less interference from background noise.
The t-coil was originally designed only for use with a regular land-line telephone, which has a speaker that is driven by magnets. When someone wearing a hearing aid that has a t-coil switches the t-coil on, the sound heard through the phone is often much stronger. Now, there are many other systems that can be accessed with a t-coil in order to improve sound quality.
Telecoils are especially helpful when there is a lot of background noise. If you happen to have access to an assistive listening device, such as an FM system, you may find that you can hear much better through your t-coil with the FM system than with just the hearing aid microphones. This is because the hearing aid microphones are often turned off when the t-coil is in use. The sound that is being amplified comes directly from a microphone in the assistive listening device, which is often much closer to the sound source. This decreases the amount of background noise that is amplified. Many public places such as movie theaters, auditoriums and sports stadiums provide assistive listening devices to their patrons at no charge. Many of these systems are hearing aid compatible. So, if your hearing aid has a t-coil, you can easily improve your hearing in the situations that are often most difficult.
A telecoil can provide the extra help you need to hear in situations that otherwise might seem impossible. Ask your hearing healthcare provider about telecoils and whether your hearing aid has one. The more you know, the better you’ll hear.