Smartphone = Smart hearing aids

New hearing technology “life-changing” for WMC patient

Anyone facing hearing aids should resign to the fact that sounds will forever seem to be coming from a tin can, right? “Wrong!” says Brenda Dietiker, patient of Mayo Clinic Health System audiologist, Cynthia See, Au.D.

At her initial appointment, Brenda told Dr. See that if people would just stop mumbling, she could understand them. Dr. See replied that Brenda was experiencing a classic sign of hearing loss, and that she could help.

The tiny devices that Dr. See recommended absolutely changed Brenda’s life. “These are not the hearing aids of the past. There is no tin can sound, buzzing, ringing or humming. Just fantastic hearing wherever I go,” says Brenda. She adds, “There was no adjustment period. I can’t feel them at all and you can hardly see them; they are even customized to my hair color.”

Dr. See, an experienced audiologist who joined Winneshiek Medical Center this past spring, offered Brenda smartphone –compatible hearing technology. Based on the results of Brenda’s hearing test, Dr. See programed the hearing aids to precisely match Brenda’s hearing needs, helped her connect to the smartphone app, and educated her on how to use the technology.

“The technology available for hearing amplification has improved dramatically in the last few years,” says Dr. See. “If patients have smartphones, there are hearing aids that connect through an app. However, if a patient is not interested in exploring the smartphone route, there are many other options that provide clear, crisp hearing. Together, my patients and I decide what is right for them.” Dr. See notes that not all smartphones have the same capabilities. She says, “The smartphone app is incredibly simple to use, but if my patients have trouble, I will help them understand how to make the adjustments. You don’t have to be a technology-whiz for the hearing aids to work for you.”

Brenda appreciates the ability to connect her two “devices” through the simple app. She says, “I can adjust my hearing aids to the level I want through my smartphone. For example, if there is a place I like to go – maybe a certain restaurant – I will set the amplification levels I need, and save the settings. The next time I enter the establishment, I choose that option on my smartphone and the hearing aids automatically adjust to those levels. I have different settings for home, my office, the grocery store, my car – anywhere I go. It is so easy to do.” The technology also allows the user to geotag locations, so the hearing aids automatically adjust when going from one location to another.

In addition, the tiny hearing aids connect to Brenda’s phone calls. She says, “The caller’s voice streams right through my hearing aids, making phone conversations easy. I don’t miss anything anymore.” Brenda adds with a smile, “I can even play music through my hearing aids, and it sounds great!”

Appointments with Dr. See are available for patients of all ages at Winneshiek Medical Center. In addition to fitting hearing aids, Dr. See can help with concerns about hearing, ringing of the ears, dizziness, and ear fullness. Call 563-382-2911 to schedule, or visit www.winmedical.org/patient-online-services to request an appointment online. Patients on Medicare need a referral from their primary care provider.

Brenda concludes, “My hearing aids may be connected to my smartphone, but because of Dr. See’s expertise and personalized care, now I am re-connected to life.”

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