Whether you’re in a loud restaurant, in group conversation or watching TV in a busy house, a noisy environment can be challenging for anyone but especially if you have hearing loss. Many patients come to us in hopes that hearing aids will help them better hear in background noise. In fact, this is a constant priority in the industry as manufacturers design and improve new hearing aid technology. Despite the vast improvement shown in current hearing aids, there is still a limit to what they can do. If you find that background noise is still difficult for you to navigate despite using hearing aids, then accessories are a great option for you.
Each hearing aid manufacturer has an assortment of accessories compatible with their hearing aids, and in most cases, you have access to at least one complimentary accessory. Let’s look at what accessories are available, and what the benefits of each are.
Potentially the most useful accessory in terms of isolating speech amongst background noise. Remote microphones are small, handheld microphones that will isolate the voice of a conversation partner and deliver it directly to your hearing aids. These are available in different styles, each having different functions and capabilities. The most common is a small directional microphone designed to be worn by your conversation partner by either clipping it on, or wearing on a lanyard. This is ideal for listening in a car, on walks, or one-on-one in a restaurant. Others are designed for table tops, and are ideal for group settings like meetings, or with multiple people at a restaurant. There are multi-functional options that offer both capabilities, but these are typically only available at an extra cost.
A TV link is a device that you connect to your TV in order to stream the audio directly to your hearing aids. This is very helpful if there is consistently a lot of environmental noise in the house when you watch TV. You can also control your streaming volume independently, so it is very useful if each viewer has a different preference for volume.
Although most current hearing aids can connect directly to cell phones via Bluetooth, there is still a bit of variability in which have direct streaming. For instance, some can only connect to iPhones and some still require you to use the microphone on the phone when taking a call so it is not hands-free. A phone clip is to be worn on the lapel or on a lanyard and allows for seamless connection to any phone. It also allows a completely hands-free set-up since there is a built-in microphone as well.
A nice basic accessory, a remote control allows you to make quick and discrete adjustments to the volume of your hearing aids. Though smart phone apps are quickly becoming the method of choice for volume control, the remote might still be a good choice if you are looking for something quick and easy or don’t have access to the app.
Although hearing aids provide significant benefit alone, accessories can give you that extra bit of help if you still find some situations challenging. Feel free to discuss options with your audiologist to find an accessory that might be best for you.