According to the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association the number of Americans with a hearing loss has doubled in the past 30 years. The average time a person is identified as significantly hearing-impaired to getting their first set of hearing aids is typically seven years. Now the audiology industry hopes to help people solve this problem sooner with new hearing aids that are more adaptable to our changing world.
Bluetooth technology is a revolution that is changing the hearing aid industry. “I think people in general are tied to a lot of their electronic products and this type of technology is going to be seamlessly wireless connected allowing them access to all of the electronics,” says Dr. Paul Hanrahan with Family Hearing Care in Traverse City.
This wireless stream allows iPhone’s, iPod’s, laptops and other electronics to play directly into the hearing aids.
“That signal would typically be much clearer than trying to hold the phone up to the ear if you’re on a phone call. If you’re streaming music it would be again a direct input rather than just hearing it from across the room from a speaker or something of that nature,” Hanrahan says.
With a simple app patients can now sync their hearing aids directly to their phone, making it easy for them to adjust settings with the swipe of their finger. “The patients can make adjustments with their cell phone for volume either both hearing aids together or separately they can also adjust for tone so they have a bass and treble control,” Hanrahan says. What makes this hearing aid technology really unique is the ability to save location settings. “If they go to a location quite frequently and they made adjustments they can save those adjustments into their phone so when they go back to that location they can just go into the phone bring up those settings and go back to the same situation as they had previously,” Hanrahan says.
We went to Doctor Paul Hanrahan at Family Hearing Care in Traverse City who is already having patients try out this technology to see if it could fit their life style. “I’m in the throws like a lot of people my age learning the iPhone and it’s going to come and I think it’s going to be a great addition,” says patient Lyn Salathiel. While some didn’t feel the change was needed. “The hearing aids I have now are really meeting my needs as far as hearing in group settings at meetings and so on,” patient Vera Carmien says.
Hearing aids with Bluetooth technology cost about $2,000 more than a normal pair. “Medicare does not cover anything with hearing aids other than sometimes a hearing test or hearing evaluation, but when it comes to hearing aids they cover nothing so they must have some sort of secondary insurance or out-of-pocket expense,” says Hanrahan. It’s new technology that’s helping those with hearing loss do things they love their highest ability. “I’d consider it certainly,” says Salathiel.
With many new gadgets come some flaws, when using the Bluetooth app Dr. Hanrahan says patients may go through batteries sooner. Doctors also hope this will make upcoming generations more accepting of using hearing aids.
15247 Eleventh Street, Suite 200
Victorville, CA 92395
(844) 552-HEAR (4327)