HEARING AID BASICS
There is a wide variety of hearing aids on the market today, with many different designs and combinations of features. Here is a basic run down of your options to help you choose the model that is just right for you.
Remember that hearing aids do not restore hearing, but improve it by amplifying particular frequencies that you are struggling with. Most hearing aids are digital. All hearing aid depend on the same basic parts: the microphone, the processor, the receiver, and the battery. Learning about how each of these parts work will help you choose the model that best suits your needs.
Small microphones take in the sound from the environment. The processor converts and adjusts the sound before passing it along to the receiver which converts the signals back into sound and deliver this sound directly into your ear. The majority of the features that distinguish digital from analog hearing aids are all the receiver, that part responsible for the conversion. And when you understand exactly what the receiver is responsible for, you will understand why it is also the part of the chain in which the greatest advancements have been made.
The receiver analyzes and adjusts the sounds according to the specifics of your hearing loss and the level of the sounds in your environment. Analog hearing waves amplify the continuous sound waves they receive, both the signal and the noise, equally. Particular models of analog hearing aids do allow for programable settings for different environments, basic EQs that you will switch between as you move from let’s say the library, to the loud bar, to the outdoor football stadium. And of course this is helpful to a degree.
THE DIGITAL DIFFERENCE
But digital hearing aids feature all these same features and so much more. Computer chips instantly convert sound waves into digital signals, allowing a complex processing that distinguishes speech from background noise. This amplification allows for much greater nuance in different settings and a much greater degree of personalization for each person’s specific needs according to their own pattern of hearing loss. Digital hearing aids also have much more subtle program memories, smoothly transitioning settings as you move between spaces.
There are plenty of different designs to choose from, depending on your budget, your design preferences, and the special features most helpful to you. But all of your options will most likely be digital. The following are examples of common features of digital options you can choose from, mixing and matching according to your personal needs. These are options that were mostly unavailable in the analog models of the past, and if they were available, they were much simpler and less effective.
- Noise Reduction: this is a feature that all models will have to some degree, but the amount and the effectiveness varies.
- Directional microphones: Directional microphones are set to pick up a clearer signal from sound sources in front of you, while diminishing the noises coming from behind and the sides. This helps you focus in noisy environments.
- Telecoils and Bluetooth connectivity: Telecoils and Bluetooth connectivity work similarly to sync your hearing aids with your smartphone to reduce distraction from environmental noise.
Telecoils allow you to sync with public loop systems in churches, theaters, allowing you to hear the speaker or performance directly. Bluetooth compatibility works similarly with devices, such computers or televisions. Most digital hearing aids come with remote controls or the option to use your smartphone as a remote control. Direct audio input options allow you to plug your devices directly into your hearing aids. Synchronization connects your two separate hearing aids so that they can be controlled as one unit, simplifying their operation.
TAKE ACTION TODAY
Disabling hearing loss already affects more Americans annually than diabetes or cancer. Over 13% of the population over 18 lives with it to some degree. And by the time someone reaches 75 years old or older, we are talking about more than half of the population living with it. Sadly, studies show that more than 2/3 of those affected by it do not take action to treat it. But left untreated, hearing troubles quickly unravel one’s greater personal health into all kinds of chaos, physical and psychological. Make an appointment with one of our specialists today. It is simpler than ever before to take action and make sure that you are living life with the greatest degree of satisfaction that you can.