New Hearing Aid Blocks Ambient Noise
Place your hands over your ears and talk—that’s how some hearing aid users hear their own voices. Top that off with the rattle and clink of a noisy restaurant and a hundred chattering voices, and you’ll understand why those who wear hearing aids often prefer to eat at home. Or they take out their hearing aids because it seems to make things worse.
Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine recently tested a new hearing aid which has an open fit with directional microphones. The open fit allows ambient sounds into the ear, and eliminates that “talking in a tunnel” feeling you get with conventional hearing aids that block the ear canal. Open fit have been available for three years, but not with the directional microphones, which help to block out some of the ambient sounds, making conversation clearer.
Tested in a lab that duplicated the sounds of a noisy St. Louis restaurant, this new combo worked well—20% better than the simple open fit type or wearing no aid at all. People like the open fit because it’s almost invisible and very light. They work best for people who hear lower register sounds but have difficulty with higher register sounds, like talking. That’s a common complaint associated with aging-related hearing loss.
Michael Valente, Ph.D., director of Adult Audiology at the University, notes that lots of people have a hard time hearing conversations in restaurants. So those with hearing loss should realize they aren’t the only ones! He’s working with several groups to produce a guide that will rate restaurants in the St. Louis area according to how noisy they are. Such programs are already in place in San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
The Anti-Aging Bottom Line: Some degree of hearing loss is very common with aging. If you wear hearing aids, or if you have trouble hearing higher frequency sounds in noisy environments like restaurants, you may want to investigate open fit options. Visit www.vivatone.com to learn more about these hearing aids.
QUICK TIP: Did you know that sensory impairments may make some people more likely to suffer from mood disorders like depression? Learn More
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Article updated on: August 6th, 2008