Tagged: hearing in noise

A T-coil Can Improve Hearing In Noise

April 4, 2016

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.

Sometimes Good Hearing Aids Aren’t Enough

September 14, 2015

ThinkerSometimes, good hearing aids just aren’t enough. There are so many things that go into “good hearing,” from having a good diagnostic test to choosing the right hearing healthcare professional to purchasing the right instrument for your hearing loss. Once you’ve gone through the process, the last thing you want to hear is that you might still have trouble hearing in some instances, especially in situations with background noise. But for many people, this is exactly the case and it can be very frustrating!

So why is it that good hearing aids are just not enough?
Well, it generally has to do with the ear more than the hearing aids. You see, when there is hearing loss, there is damage to the ear in some capacity. That damage cannot generally be undone. So, while hearing aids make sound louder, the sound still has to be processed through the damaged system. The damaged system can cause distortion of the sound, which makes it difficult to hear clearly at times. In addition, we listen with our brains, not with our ears. So, once the sound makes it past the damaged ear, the sound has to be processed and made sense of. If there is any change in the brain from long-term hearing loss or if the brain cannot hold on to information for an adequate amount of time, what is heard can be lost. The listener has only one recourse – ask for the speaker to repeat themselves. Inevitably, the response is, “aren’t you wearing your hearing aids?”

So what can you do when even good hearing aids aren’t enough?
There are several different things to try if you’re having trouble hearing in noise, even with your noise reduction hearing aids. The first is a system called LACE (Listening and Communication Enhancement). LACE is an auditory training program done at home on your computer. It is a month-long intensive program that requires 30 minutes of your day to improve the way the brain uses the information it gets. Another good way to help improve hearing in noise is a system like ReSound’s Unite Mini Microphone. The Mini Mic can be clipped to your speaking partner, left on a podium or set in the middle of a table during a round-table discussion, dinner or meeting. The Mini Mic is a small device that sends sound directly to the hearing aids. By putting the Mini Mic close to the person you’d like to hear, you are essentially decreasing the distance between the speaker and the ear and thus, background noise interference can be reduced significantly.

If you have noise reduction hearing aids but are still having difficulty hearing in noise, talk with your Audiologist about the other options that are available to help improve the way you hear and communicate. We’re here to help!