Wearing face masks is important to prevent further spread of the Covid-19 virus. Unfortunately, some country leaders don’t set a good example, e.g., German Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Donald Trump refused to wear them. But the masks make it hard for others to understand the speaker. Fortunately, there is a way to prevent these misunderstandings, namely to incorporate a transparent section that permits listeners to get the additional information by reading the speaker’s lips. You can buy them already made, or make them yourself.
If you, like many other hearing aid wearers, are affected by a build-up of ear wax in your hearing aid or your ear, you need to get rid of it. Prior to the onset of the Covid-19 virus, you would visit your hearing aid supplier’s office, which would clean both the hearing aid and your ears. But these days you can’t visit your hearing aid supplier’s office. You probably can, perhaps with the aid of a magnifying glass and a thin wire or perhaps a paper clip, rid the hearing aid of the wax. But you will very likely not be able to get rid of the wax in your ear safely (doctors advise against the use of Q-tips). We recently heard of a product that may be useful for getting the wax out of your ear, Q-Twists. However, it is not universally loved by doctors and buyers. We have just ordered one and will report on our own results later.
During the current pandemic, it is important to take all possible measures to prevent the Coronavirus from spreading. Doctors and dentists need to wear masks, or face shields, and practice strict cleanliness and distancing protocols during office visits and try and use telemedicine as much as possible. In the case of hearing aids, well-trained audiologists are expensive because their education and training are expensive. Audiologists’ offices are also pricey and using audiologists for hearing aid selection and fittings add considerably to their cost. Recently a company named Koalys launched a home audiology platform called Koalys Comfort to provide tele-consultation, remote diagnostics, and hearing aid fitting capabilities, Koalys introduced a more cost-effective communication between a hearing aids user and his/her audiologist. We believe that Koalys has a great potential to benefit the audiologists and consumers.
Hearing aid pricing seems like a bunch of random numbers. For most other products the price is proportional to their cost. But there are other factors in this product category. There are the “Big Six” makers who claim the most features and highest quality. They are usually sold by highly-educated and experienced audiologists, who also offer a bunch of related services such as measuring the customers’ needs, customizing the hearing aids (e.g., making custom-fit earpieces), and cleaning earwax from ears and the hearing aids).
Apple products offer a wide range of capabilities thanks to its hardware and apps. Among those apps are ways to hear better.
For those wearing hearing aids made by major manufacturers Oticon, Resound, Starkey, or Widex, they can use the Apple Watch app.
And those people not wearing hearing aids can use Apple AirPods.
One of the reasons that people who are hard of hearing don’t wear hearing aids is that they don’t want others to think they are “over the hill”. But Apple AirPod users are unlikely to feel that way, nor are Apple Watch wearers (there’s an April 5, 2018, YouTube on CNET called “Can hearing aids be as hip as the Apple Watch?”)
People who are deaf or hard-of-hearing often have a variety of ailments. Because no one technology works for all of them, such people need to match their ailment with the best technology for them. It appears that conventional hearing aids manufactured by one of the “Big Six” are often not the best. One of the other alternatives is “Bone Conduction Headphones.”
Ears come in all sizes and shapes, but hearing aids usually come with only two or three sizes. We wondered if Pixel Buds or AirPods used for listening to smartphones or similar products, such as Custom Earplugs by Selective Sounds, could be adapted to be used with hearing aids. Our search found a few that appear to be good possibilities:
If you ask most people how they could hear better, they would recommend getting hearing aids. But there is another way, namely to take vitamin pills. For example, a large number of adults suffer from ringing in the ears called tinnitus, which can be helped by taking magnesium. Potassium is needed in the inner ear, increasing as one ages. And noise-induced hearing loss (which is common due to the conditions that many people are subjected to).
Almost all hearing aids are generally tiny stereo microphone/amplifier/speaker combinations. But not the NeoSensory Buzz. Conventional hearing aids include an earpiece. But not the NeoSensory Buzz. Instead, the user wears a chunky wristband, which “hears” sounds and communicates to the ears via the user’s skin. Buzz avoids the problem of earwax of conventional hearing aids. It also eliminates the need for an audiologist. At $589, it is considerably cheaper than hearing aids from the “Big Six.”
Would Improving Hearing Improve Your Brain?
Can avoiding hearing loss prevent dementia? Research has shown that hearing loss can lead to Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia. Assuming that people can afford them, having hearing aids improves their brain function. Unfortunately, only about 20% of people who need hearing aids actually wear them. And among Mexican-Americans, it is only 5%. Can avoiding hearing loss prevent dementia? Research has shown that hearing loss can lead to Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia.