Hearing Loss: Hearing Hope! Hearing Aids and Assistive Listening Device Advancements

I’ve been thinking about a Cochlear Implant for a while now. I have a severe-to- profound hearing loss and hearing aids have not been much help, particularly in noisy environments. For several years, my audiologist has been recommending a Cochlear Implant but I have held out, hoping technological hearing aid advancement would come along. And it has. (There are a variety of incredible new technological advancements from all the primary hearing aid manufacturers). I found my help through the Oticon OPN hearing aids.

This offers three different hearing aid options. Each is made for iPhone (MFI) like most hearing aid manufacturers offer. By using a free downloadable app, I can control volume and programs directly from my iPhone. It has a telecoil, an optional TV adapter, a mini mic, and a battery recharger. Through another technological advancement with IFTTT, the hearing aids can be configured to other devices such as doorbells, fire alarms, baby alarms and more.

The recent groundbreaking technology of a variety of hearing aids are introducing the option to analyze sound and differentiate between speech and background noise. This is done in part by the ability to reduce noise faster, thus allowing the hearing aids to hear multiple speakers simultaneously. Oticon has the Velox platform, the Opn scans the environment one hundred times per second and can improve speech understanding by up to 30 percent.

I was skeptical at first. My audiologist agreed to allow me to have a two-month trial. So here I am, nearly ten days with my Oticon OPN devices and I can hear better. I can now tell where sound is coming from, hear the clicks of my keyboard, the sound of my shoes as I walk across my tile floor, and a variety of other environmental sounds I couldn’t hear before. I’m also happy to say that they seem to perform better than my Resound Lynx hearing aids in noise. I’m going to try their assistive device for the TV and Oticon’s version of a mini mic.

Is this the hearing miracle I’ve been hoping for? No, it is not. But I am one of those still weighing in on how well the CI would improve my situation. I’m hopeful that wearing these aids might get me through a few more years. Who knows, maybe more advanced devices will come along to help those with severe-to-profound hearing loss in lieu of the CI. (There is no one right answer for any individual with hearing loss but the more everyone shares, the better the general public can be informed on the options available to hear better).

Dear Readers,

I’ve heard that many of you find my columns helpful. To a writer that’s the equivalent of a giant thank you! Should you have questions about anything I mention in my column, feel free to write to me in care of the Florida hearing loss association’s website and email address at hlaaflorida@yahoo.com and we will get you an answer. Comments are also welcome and appreciated.

Thanks so much!

Linda Bilodeau