Siemens Wireless Hearing Aid eases noise-induced hearing loss
In 2011, Siemens introduced matchbox-size miniTek, which connects two transmitters simultaneously and features DAI (direct audio input) for third party Bluetooth devices.
Hearing loss doesn't have to be as crippling as it may have been in the past, thanks to new technologies such as Bluetooth enabling that brings sound directly to a hearing aid.
In much the same way that wireless Internet communicates with computers, Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids feature a controller that transmits and receives wireless signals sent to and from other Bluetooth-enabled devices. The process results in better sound quality. Typically, a Bluetooth-enabled hearing aid can connect with up to eight different devices, such as a television, MP3 player or cell phone. Hearing impaired physicians can even link Bluetooth to electronic stethoscopes.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is a common and preventable injury for farmers, who are frequently exposed to excessive noise. Farming ranks among the top three occupations and industries with the highest risk for hearing loss. In the farming industry, NIHL is more prevalent in males. Hearing protection isn't something farmers typically address. Studies have shown that farmers and other agricultural workers can experience substantial hearing loss by age 30.
Paul K. Farrell, Au.D., CCC-A., the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association's associate director, Audiology Professional Practices, said that, among other things, Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids make it possible for cell phones to ring directly into the hearing aid and be answered with a push button.
"The controller that links Bluetooth-enabled hearing aid and devices (such as cell phones) can either be worn around the neck or in a pocket," Farrell said. "It allows for hands-free communication as well as enhancing the hearing aid. It provides a much clearer signal from devices such as cell phones. It also allows deaf or hard of hearing individuals to enjoy the latest electronic devices."
Regardless of the cause of hearing loss, Bluetooth can be used to enhance hearing abilities. If hearing loss is too severe, the Bluetooth device may not be of significant value.
"Those with mild to moderate hearing loss may benefit more from this type of technology," Farrell said. "Even the best hearing aid is not a cure for hearing loss. However, they can greatly improve your quality of life."
Among the benefits of Bluetooth-enabled hearing aid devices are the ability to watch television with comfortable volume levels for other family members. Using Bluetooth with devices such as MP3 players can help reduce the likelihood of further damage to hearing because of loud volume. Users can also take advantage of computer resources such as YouTube videos, video conference calls or online broadcasts. Signal interference which can cause hearing aid whistling feedback noises is also reduced with Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids, keeping interference at a minimum.
Individuals who struggle with operating technological devices may not fare as well in using Bluetooth because setting up connections to devices can require set-up time and understanding the pairing process. During Bluetooth use, the hearing aid microphone is turned off, which means conversation with others is more challenging. Bluetooth technology costs may also be prohibitive.
According to research provided by the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, preventing hearing loss begins with awareness of situations in which hearing might be damaged by noise. Warning signs that sounds are too loud include ringing in the ears after prolonged noise exposure, speech and other sounds that are muffled after exposure, loss of ability to distinguish musical tones, inability to hear high pitched sound and a feeling of fullness in the ears.
Individuals experiencing hearing loss are probably not aware that the condition can cause both psychological and physical problems. Fatigue, irritability and communication problems result from longtime hearing loss. Noise also causes constriction of small arteries in the fingers, toes, skin and abdominal organs. It has been documented that the heart pumps less blood per beat in a noisy environment. Resulting stress can cause added susceptibility to disease, affect the nervous system and stimulate headaches.
Reducing agricultural noise can be as simple as replacing worn, loose or unbalanced machine parts. Lubricating machines properly and adequately also reduces noise. High-quality mufflers are key to reducing engine-powered equipment noise. Well-designed tractor cabs also help reduce noise exposure.
If worn properly, hearing protection such as ear plugs and ear muffs can be good noise buffers. If hearing loss is suspected, see an audiologist because early treatment helps reduce overall impact and potential for increased hearing damage.
Source: By Loretta Sorensen, Midwest Producer