If you are wearing or considering buying a hearing aid with a telecoil feature, you might be wondering about what it does. As its name suggests, a telecoil is a small coil of wire. It sounds simplistic, but it greatly enhances the functionality of your hearing aid. Keep reading to get a better idea of what this simple gadget can provide.

Telecoils are designed to pick up on magnetic signals. Unlike standard microphones and amplifiers, which amplify all sounds they encounter, a telecoil will only transmit sounds that are generated magnetically. Initially, the number one use for this function was to better hear phone conversations. Older phones used powerful magnets in their speakers, generating magnetic signals that telecoil-equipped hearing aids could detect. Contemporary phone technology has done away with these magnets, but many telephones will include electronics which allow them to communicate with telecoil devices.

The use of telecoils started with the telephone, but now they are utilized in many other ways. They are often used as part of Assistive Listening Systems in auditoriums, stadiums and movie theaters. You may find that a venue will loan you a headset to assist in transmitting these signals. Users often say that the quality of the sound they pick up magnetically surpasses the sound quality transmitted through the air acoustically.

The way you use your telecoil will vary depending on the type, age and size of your hearing aid. Behind-the-ear hearing aids with their larger cases are the most likely to have the telecoil feature included since the additional components require some additional space. Older hearing aids can be switched between telecoil and non-telecoil modes using a physical switch on the device. Digital hearing aids will have programs for telecoil and microphone modes. Alternating between modes can be accomplished by pressing a button on the hearing aid or on a remote control.

You may have heard about interference when using a telecoil: it can happen, but it’s rare. Interference is typically experienced as a buzzing sound and is generally associated with electronics such as fluorescent lights and CRT monitors.

The advantages of a telecoil-equipped hearing aid greatly outweigh the costs. You’ll find that the price of a telecoil-enabled hearing aid is only slightly higher and definitely worth the added functionality.

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