Are you turning up the TV to hear it better?

I ask a patient a number of questions before I actually test their hearing. I learn a great deal by listening to what a patient thinks about their own hearing. It is always interesting to see the reaction of the spouse to the answers their mate gives, especially about the TV. I have seen mates roll their eyes and even cover their face in mock horror when the other spouse says, “maybe a little” to the TV volume question! When you lose vital hearing ability you lose the ability to discriminate speech. That is a fancy way of saying it is difficult to sort out the actual words that are being said. Most TV programs have dramatic background music that makes it even harder to hear what is being said.

It is typical for a new hearing aid owner to come back for the first week follow-up visit and tell me they were able to turn their TV volume way down. The solution to you hearing your TV better may be with hearing aids, but until you take that step, here is a simple practical suggestion that may help. If you have a remote control for your TV, turn on the set and look on the remote for the “menu” button. Press it and you should see some “settings” options. Press that then look for an option that is labeled “audio//sound”. When you select the audio or sound option you should see a slider bar with the words bass on one end and treble on the other. Slide the function of the bar to give yourself the maximum treble sound. If your hearing loss is in the higher frequencies, doing this will sharpen the words slightly, maybe even just enough to help you get by for awhile hearing the TV better. You should know that if your spouse does not have hearing loss making that change could cause them to hear the TV with a slight “tinny” sound to the words. In most homes, such spouses are willing to hear a tinnier sound than to be blasted into the other end of the house with the high volume their hearing impaired partner needs to come even close to hearing the words. Another option before hearing aids is to get an ALD, an assisted listening device. “TV ears” is perhaps the most widely advertised ALD here in the United States. The base unit plugs into the TV and sends the audio signal to a headset the person wears. They can adjust the volume of the headset without affecting the listening comfort of their spouse or family.

“For private listening, you could also go with headphones that use wireless technology like Bluetooth, RF (radio-frequency) or IR (infrared). Typically, these headphones work with a base that plugs directly into the headphone jack of the television, and then transmits to the headphones. Most of these headphones go over the ears, therefore, they can be used with hearing aids.

Some Bluetooth-enabled smart TVs let you skip the base station and just sync your Bluetooth headphones with the TV itself. While the setup process will vary depending on the television manufacturer, in most cases you’ll open your TV’s Settings or Accessories menu, select Bluetooth options, and then set your TV to “pairing mode.” Then, you’ll simply put your Bluetooth headphones into pairing mode, too. ” (AARP)

The best option would be digital hearings. Some of the new technology even has wireless transmission from the TV directly to the hearing aids with that same personal volume and sound quality control. So how about you? Are you turning up the TV to hear it better?

If you have the symptoms of hearing loss let a professional help you find out why. The hearing professional will help you sort out the technology level to meet your need, your budget, and answer your hearing need questions.

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Jeffrey L. Bayliff, NBC-HIS, is owner of Hear the Birds Hearing Aid Center, Lock Haven.

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