Quad Cities, IL/IA

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What if I Can’t Hear the Alarm?


By Rachel King, AuD, Audiology Consultants

People with
normal hearing usually take being able to hear certain sounds for
granted. For example, the sound of their baby or child crying in the
next room, the telephone ringing, the doorbell, the alarm clock, the
fire alarm, etc. We depend on hearing these sounds to keep us informed
about what is happening in our environment. So, what if you can’t hear
these simple sounds? How do you know someone is at the door? Or worse,
how do you know the smoke alarm is sounding or if there is an intruder
entering the home?

While hearing aids are a good way to start
addressing concerns with hearing loss, the hearing aids are limited in
what they can pick up and amplify. In addition, hearing aids are not
worn at night. A concern for some people with hearing loss is hearing
some of the sounds described earlier — a baby crying or an alarm. There
is technology that is designed to help with these specific types of

There are specialized alarm systems that use flashing
lights and vibration to alert to different sounds in the environment.
One example is a system that uses a vibrating device under your pillow
at night. When an alarm sounds, such as an alarm clock, the device
vibrates, shaking you awake. Some of these systems have accessories that
will also trigger an alarm if a baby cries or the smoke alarm sounds.
Some even have motion detection accessories to detect intruders entering
the home. In addition to the vibrating pillow, these systems usually
have bright flashing indicators to tell which alarm is sounding. These
can sometimes be attached to a lamp or other lights in the house. If you
can think of an alarm, there is most likely a device somewhere that
will help convert it to light or vibration!

Another limit of
hearing aids is the ability to communicate in challenging listening
situations, such as places with a lot of background noise, or on the
phone. There are also devices that can help with challenging listening
situations and that work in tandem with hearing aids. There are
specialized phones available for people with hearing loss that amplify
the sounds coming through the phone. For people with profound hearing
loss, captioned phones will allow the person to read what is being said
over the phone. For help in hearing conversation in loud situations,
there are systems that will bring a person’s voice directly to the
listener’s ear. The most common of these systems is the FM system. A
microphone, usually worn by one person or placed on a table with
multiple people, transmits on an FM frequency to a receiver usually
attached to a hearing aid. A similar system is now available using
Bluetooth technology. There are also systems available for help with
hearing the TV. These systems allow for others in the room to still hear
the TV while you can have your own headset and volume control.
are a lot of options out there and audiologists are ready and able to
help. The specific devices that will work best for one person may not be
the right solution for another. Listening needs vary based on levels of
hearing loss and specific situations. Meet with an audiologist and be
sure to discuss all your hearing concerns so that your audiologist can
work with you to help you find the best solution or set of solutions for

For more information about hearing aids and to
learn more about options for hearing loss, call Audiology Consultants,
P.C., at 563-355-7712 or visit www.audiologyconsultants.com.