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Top 10 Hearing Aid Myths: You're Going to Like What You Hear

There are all kinds of myths Greek myths, Roman myths, urban legends (albino alligators roam the sewers of New York City), tall tales and all manner of folklore including medical folklore. Red meat causes cancer (untrue), irradiated veggies make you glow in the dark (totally false) and lets not forget the old saw: Starve a cold; stuff a fever. Or is it the other way around? And what does it mean, any way?

Okay, so for the first time in the recorded history of humankind, Healthy Hearing presents:

The Top 10 Hearing Aid Myths

Myth #1 Hearing aids make people look old.

Chill, dude. First, chances are you are old, but consider the alternative.

Second, hearing aid manufacturers have jumped all over this baby boomer demographic about to enter the hearing aid market so many companies have created ear bling hearing devices you wear with pride. The Gray Panthers are here. Were old, were bold. Get used to it.

You can pick a style that fits into the ear canal so the only person who can see it is someone who's looking directly into your ear canal. Who's that going to be? Or you can pick a style that discreetly sits behind the ear, like Phonak Hearings Audeo. This eye-catching product comes in a variety of fresh modern colors and is dispelling the conception of what a hearing aid should look like.

For persons who live on their cell phone, imagine a hearing aid that appears as if it is your Bluetooth hearing device, but is a hearing aid. But wait, it can be both! Yes there are now hearing aids on the market that function both as a hearing aid and as your Bluetooth listening device. Take Oticon's Epoq. This award winning hearing aid allows you to wirelessly connect to your cell phone, personal computer, MP3 music player or other Bluetooth enabled device in both ears. So not only is Epoq a hearing aid, it is a small cordless headset.

Anyway, it's your choice. Discreet or flash. Frankly, flash behind the ear is cool and its going to get cooler. There are already designer hearing aids.

Myth #2 Hearing aids whistle and make noises.

This old chestnut has been around since grandpa slept in a crib.

Sure, in the past, when hearing aids were the size of a lunch cooler inside a tangle of wires, these devices did cause feedback but come on this is the digital age. Don't you think this feedback problem can be solved with a little acoustic know-how. Most hearing aids, like the Starkey Destiny 1600, come with automatic feedback reduction and other automated features. The folks who design these computers for the ears have crammed a lot of technology into a very small package, eliminating the whistling and screeching that used to be part of the whole hearing aid experience.

Myth #3 Hearing aids make my own voice sound funny.

Put your fingers in your ears and your voice will sound different. That's why people are always surprised to hear their recorded voices for the first time. I don't sound like that!

Believe it, Bob, that's how you sound to the rest of us.

So, to eliminate that stuffy ear feeling, leading hearing aid makers have created the open fit design. The microphone rests just outside the ear canal, with a small tube going into the ear canal. Your natural hearing does what it can and the open ear hearing aid kicks in with a boost as needed. Totally eliminates that stuffy ear feeling and the funny voice syndrome unless, of course, you have a funny voice.

Myth #4 You have to buy batteries all the time and change them and they're expensive.

Another hearing aid myth that's been around for a few generations.

The hearing aid market is highly competitive so manufacturers are working overtime to deliver more features, more convenience, improved sound quality and both hearing and wearing comfort.

Yeah, you can get a battery operated model. They're the norm at the moment. The batteries aren't expensive and these miniature power plants are packaged for easy loading. Oh, and they last a long time because digital technology doesn't need a lot of juice.

You can also eliminate batteries altogether with rechargeable hearing devices. Plug that thing in before bed and you're good to go for a whole day. There are a few rechargeable hearing aid devices on the market currently, one being GN Resound's Pulse. The Pulse offers the convenience of rechargeable batteries it can even be charged from your personal computer connecting via a USB port. Now that is convenient.

Batteries may be a hassle to some, and if you're one of them, go rechargeable go green and really simplify your life.

Myth #5 You can't play golf with a hearing aid.

People with this complaint are actually talking about the sound of the wind blowing through their hearing devices. If you amp up your device to hear the others in your foursome, the wind starts to sound like a raging hurricane.

So, todays devices are programmed to detect wind and cancel it electronically. This way you can carry on normal chit chat without feeling the need to batten down the hatches. By the way, this is also an important feature for boaters, skiers anyone who enjoys outdoor activities, even a walk around the block after supper.

Myth #6 You can't get hearing aids wet.

Well, you probably don't want to put it through the gentle cycle of your dishwasher but you can certainly purchase devices that are moisture resistant. So, if you're sweating like a hog during your morning jog, no worries. A little moisture wont short circuit your hearing or your hearing aid.

If you're into water sports like kayaking, check out moisture resistant units from hearing aid makers Siemens and Sonic Innovations.

Siemens Centra Active has what is called AquaProtect'. The AquaProtect' system consists of an array of innovations that make the instrument resistant to sweat, moisture, humidity, and other debris. For example the housing of the instrument is coated with nanocoating, a Siemens exclusive that repels water.

Sonic Innovations Ion200 also features numerous moisture protection features making it ideal for an active lifestyle.

You don't have to give up the triathlon so keep at it and keep hearing as you do.

Myth #7 Hearing aids always need to be adjusted.

Another old myth that's seen its last days.

Todays devices deliver automated convenience so you aren't constantly fiddling with the volume control every time you move to another sound environment. Again, digital technology has allowed engineers to develop systems that detect changes in sound levels and adjust themselves automatically.

An example of the latest automated technology to hit the market can be found in Unitron Hearing's digital hearing instrument, Yuu'. Yuu' is an interactive hearing instrument that automatically adapts to your changing listening needs. For example; Yuu features a technology called antiShock', which eliminates the discomfort of sudden unsettling sounds such as a door slamming without affecting the sounds you want to hear such as speech. Yuu' also contains an industry first self learning technology that allows the hearing aid to learn your preferences the hearing aid is adjusting for you in different listening situations. No more fiddling. All automatic.

Myth #8 Hearing aids are just sound amplifiers.

If you believe this one, here's a question for you: where you been for the past 25 years?

Today's hearing devices are so far ahead of where we were just a few years ago. And as digital electronics continue to experience shrinkage (thank you, George Costanza), designers can build in more automated features features that detect different sound scenes and address them so you don't have to. That's the whole point: to make wearing a hearing aid as natural an experience as possible, and that means selective amplification of sound based on programs within the device and your personal settings.

Most premium digital devices now also contain technology referred to as data-logging. This technology allows the hearing aid to log what has and hasn't been used in the hearing by the user making it easier for the hearing heath care professional to make changes to the programming based on what the user has been using.

These devices don't just amplify sound. They create natural sound, delivering a totally organic listening experience.

Myth #9 Hearing aids cost too much.

They ain't cheap, that's a fact. But you don't need a $250,000 Lamborghini for the morning commute and you don't have to spend beaucoup bucks to get the sound quality and comfort you need. Hearing aids are like anything. The size, technology and range of features affect the cost.

You can spend as much as $5,000 for a hearing aid and chances are you'll want one for each ear. You could buy a nice house for that in 1955! But times have changed.

If you talk to a hearing health care professional, you'll discover both the range of features and the range of prices available and the fact is, you get a lot in the quality of life department for a little from the savings account.

Myth #10 Hearing aids can't help me.

Okay, if you still believe this myth, please re-read this article.

From mild hearing loss the result of long-term over-exposure to big hair bands to the more serious degrees of hearing loss caused by disease or serious trauma, theres a hearing device that can improve your ability to hear and to enjoy life more.

Look, there's more to good hearing than cupping your ears to hear the news on TV, and if you find yourself asking, "What?" more than once a day, make an appointment with a hearing health care professional.

Have a hearing test done. (It doesn't hurt.) Then, talk with the hearing health care professional about everything from budget to lifestyle to your preferences as far as hearing aid type. (Go for ear bling. It really is cool.)

Then, get yourself fitted and get back to hearing the life the way we used to.

It's natural, man. All natural.

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