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New hearing aid technology passes the restaurant noise test
Date:7/10/2008

background noise by partially canceling out low frequency sounds coming from the sides and from behind. Because open-fit aids let sound pass directly to the eardrum, some believe this will lessen their ability to decrease background sounds.

"We found that the open-fit hearing aids with directional microphones on average gave wearers a 20 percent improvement in speech intelligibility in the restaurant setting compared to not having a hearing aid or wearing an open-fit aid without a directional microphone," Valente says. "We are the first to show that a directional microphone in open-fit can provide improved performance in noise."

In fact, the aids without directional microphones performed worse in the noisy situation than no aid at all. "That's not unusual," Valente says. "People often tell me that when they are in a noisy situation, they take out their hearing aids because they don't help and sometimes even make it harder to hear."

Open-fit hearing aids have been available for about three years. They are designed for people who have normal hearing in the low frequency range but have lost hearing in the upper range, where most conversational sounds are. This is a very common type of hearing loss that often comes with aging or prolonged noise exposure. Valente says the open-fit hearing aids are what most new patients are asking for because they are very light and almost invisible, but they are not the best choice for all hearing problems.

Studies such as this help clinicians counsel patients on choosing the type of hearing aid that will work best for them and also what to expect from any hearing device. "I tell patients that a hearing aid will definitely allow you to hear better in a quiet environment, but in a noisy place, it won't ever work as well as it does in quiet," Valente says. "I also emphasize that even normal-hearing people have trouble communicating in noise. I say, next time you go to a restaurant with someone, estimate how much of the co
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Contact: Gwen Ericson
ericsong@wustl.edu
314-286-0141
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

Page: 1 2 3

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