As adept as hearing aids are in improving the communication abilities of individuals with hearing loss, they do have limitations. Background noise, distance, and poor acoustics can all hamper their effectiveness. Accessories can help users overcome these obstacles in many situations, and enhance the overall communication experience. Some of the more popular accessories for hearing aids in Portland include:
- FM Systems. FM (Frequency Modulated) systems consist of a transmitter, microphone and receiver. They are used to improve hearing in situations where background noise, distance or reverberation are factors. The microphone and transmitter are worn by or placed in close proximity to the speaker, and the listener wears the receiver. The transmitter sends a radio signal to the receiver, which forwards it to the hearing aid, cochlear implant or other device. FM systems are useful in classroom settings and around the home.
- Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs). ALDs are basically personal amplifiers that separate speech from background noises and boost the volume of sound entering the ears. They help increase the effectiveness of hearing aids and cochlear implants by overcoming distracting background sounds and minimizing the effects of distance and poor acoustics. ALDs are similar to FM systems but in addition to radio signals might use infrared or inductive loop technologies. They are useful in classrooms, churches, movie theaters and at home.
- Wireless Accessories. Wireless accessories use Bluetooth technology to allow users to stream signals from a variety of electronic devices directly to their hearing aids. Radio waves are used to transmit data over high frequencies securely and without interference. Audio streamers work as a communication link between the wireless device and hearing aid, delivering the power needed to complete the connection. Wireless connectivity improves the listening experience in situations where background noise or distance are an issue and can be used with mobile phones, audio devices, computers, tablets and television headsets.
- Adaptors and Cords. Audio adaptors allow hearing aids to receive direct input from electronic devices such as FM systems, MP3 players, mobile phones, computers and TVs to improve the versatility of these devices. Audio cords connect the devices and can be used to send data to one hearing aid (monaural) or two hearing aids (binaural), depending on the user’s needs.
- Wax Guards and Filters. Earwax is a leading cause of damage to hearing aids. When this naturally occurring substance accumulates inside hearing aids, it can cause problems with sound reception and may even damage the electronic components. Wax guards and filters help trap earwax and prevent it from entering the hearing aids.
- Cleaning Kits. Cleaning hearing aids on a regular basis is the best way to ensure they are in good working order, and can help extend their life. Cleaning kits come with a number of handy tools for keeping your hearing aids clean; they typically include a wax removal brush and pick, a tube and vent cleaner, battery door opener, and battery replacement magnet.
Individuals with hearing loss in Portland can contact PDX ENT for assistance in purchasing these and other useful hearing aid accessories.