Technology is advancing at an astounding rate, and we’re not just talking about the Internet, self-driving cars, and robotic surgery. This includes the hearing health field. Hearing aids become smarter by the minute. Hearing evaluations are more refined and individualized than ever before, and apps for everything from testing hearing to finding the best restaurant for hearing loss to amplifying conversations are becoming more and more common.
But how effective are hearing loss apps?
Hearing health in the palm of your hand
It seems that every month a new application or app comes on the market to help us diagnose hearing loss, hear conversations better, or find hearing loss-friendly places and resources. These could be especially valuable for the millions living with hearing loss who leave it untreated. In general, experts advise that an app is no replacement for a trained professional. Still, new research is finding that some hearing aid apps could be a good alternative for those who are hesitant to seek help from a professional.
In this recent study, a team of researchers evaluated several hearing aid applications, those that help to amplify sound similar to a hearing aid, on both iPhone and Android devices. According to the documentation, the apps selected had to:
- be downloadable and function without internet connection;
- be simple to use without specialist knowledge;
- function through inexpensive wired earbuds or headphones; and
- produce reasonable quality sound as assessed through an informal listening check.
The researchers found that while there were some delays depending on device and wired versus wireless earbuds used, “hearing aid apps have the potential to increase global access to amplification at a reduced cost, increase awareness of hearing loss, and reduce stigma related to wearing hearing aids.”
Hearing health apps
Amplifier apps such as Super Ear and HearYouNow aren’t the only apps now available to help manage your hearing health.
The hearAmerica app, Soundcheck, and now even Alexa allow users to test their hearing and receive an accurate detection of hearing loss.
Soundmeter, SPLnFFT, and similar apps sense decibel levels to help you protect your hearing from noise-induced hearing loss.
Innocaption, ClearCaptions, and similar apps provide phone captioning for those with hearing loss.
SoundPrint is a free crowd-sourcing app that helps you search for restaurants and bars by noise level, reducing the frustration of conversation in background noise.
These are just a few examples of what is out there. The list goes on and on when it comes to hearing health apps.
The trouble with apps
While apps like these can help bridge the gap for the millions who choose not to work with a hearing health care provider on diagnosis and hearing aids, the truth is that quality hearing care and hearing loss evaluation are more involved than what an app can really offer.
A hearing health care professional can offer an in-depth diagnosis of the type and extent of hearing loss, the best recommendations for hearing aids along with the one-on-one fittings and adjustments to make them most comfortable and effective.
If you believe you have hearing loss, contact our office to schedule a hearing evaluation.