Types of Hearing Aid Technology

funhearingaidsThe different types of hearing aid technology vary in their circuitry. In the early days, hearing aid technology involved vacuum tubes and large, heavy batteries. Today, microchips, computerization, and digitized sound processing are used in hearing aid design.

Digital programmable hearing aids have all the features of analog programmable aids but use digitized sound processing (DSP) to convert sound waves into digital signals. A computer chip in the aid analyzes the signals to determine whether the sound is noise or speech. It then makes modifications to provide a clear, amplified, distortion-free signal.

Digital hearing aids are usually self-adjusting. The digital processing allows for
more flexibility in programming the aid. In this way, the sound it transmits matches your specific pattern of hearing loss.

This digital technology is the most expensive, but it offers many advantages. Key benefits include:

  • improvement in programmability
  • greater precision in fitting
  • management of loudness discomfort
  • control of acoustic feedback (whistling sounds)
  • noise reduction

Some aids can store several programs. As your listening environment changes, you can change the hearing aid settings. This is usually done by pushing a button on the hearing aid or by using a remote control to switch channels. The aid can be reprogrammed by the audiologist if your hearing or hearing needs change.

These aids are more expensive than conventional analog hearing aids. However, they generally have a longer life span and may provide better hearing for you in different listening situations.

Conventional analog hearing aids are designed with a particular frequency response based on your audiogram. The audiologist tells the manufacturer what settings to install. Although there are some adjustments, the aid essentially amplifies all sounds (speech and noise) in the same way. This technology is the least expensive, and it can be appropriate for many different types of hearing loss.

Analog programmable hearing aids have a microchip that allows the audiologist to program the aid for different listening environments. Example environments include quiet conversation in your home, noisy situations like a restaurant, or large areas like a theater. The programming settings depend on your individual hearing loss profile, speech understanding, and range of tolerance for louder sounds.

(source: http://www.asha.org)

Hearing Loss Symptoms

Signs and hearing loss symptoms may include: 

  • Muffling of speech and other sounds
  • Difficulty understanding words, especially against background noise or in a crowd of people
  • Frequently asking others to speak more slowly, clearly and loudly
  • Needing to turn up the volume of the television or radio
  • Withdrawal from conversations
  • Avoidance of some social settings

hearing loss symptoms

When to see a doctor
Talk to your doctor if difficulty hearing is interfering with your daily life. Your hearing may have deteriorated if you find that it’s harder to understand everything that’s said in conversation, especially when there’s background noise; if sounds seem muffled; or if you find yourself having to turn the volume higher when you listen to music, the radio or television.


Different styles of hearing aids

different styles of hearing aids

There are several different styles of hearing aids, not to mention the multiple design and color options. Each hearing aid is designed and fitted to each person’s hearing needs. 

The place where hearing aids are worn is the simplest way of categorizing the different types. Hearing aids are worn either in the ear, or behind the ear.

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