In the last two decades, hearing aid technology has made significant strides, most notably through the development of digital hearing aids.
Hearing aids assess complex decisions about the processing of sound from our surrounding environment. Here is how it works. The microphone picks up sound in your situation and passes it to the processor. The processor then enhances the signal and delivers it to the receiver which relays the amplified signal to the ear canal.
At their core, both analog and digital hearing aids include four essential components: a microphone, a processor, a receiver and a power source.
Compared to analog hearing aids, digital hearing aids provide audiologists with greater flexibility when fitting and fine-tuning a device. The new hearing aid models incorporate tiny computer chips designed to customize sounds for the wearer – making speech louder and background noise softer, so it’s easier to hear. Additional advancements in current hearing aid technology, also include expanding wireless capabilities and improving battery life.
Minimizing Background Noise
In the past, hearing aid technology was unable to differentiate between specific sounds, meaning that all sounds were amplified the same. With the introduction of digital hearing aids came some great benefits such as the suppression of background noise and the automatic cancellation of that annoying (and embarrassing) whistling sound that characterized analog hearing aids.
Maximizing Speech Understanding
Directional microphone systems are designed to amplify sounds coming from the front of the wearer while reducing sounds coming from everywhere else. The system is designed to improve speech understanding in background noise. The more advanced versions of this technology incorporate directional microphones that automatically adjust to the location of the source of the speech.
Thanks to the increased use of smart technology (phones, iPads, and televisions), hearing aids can be easily connected to various devices. In some hearing aids, audio information can be streamed from your phone or tv directly to your hearing aid, either wirelessly or with the use of additional equipment.
Hearing aid batteries are small and can be challenging to insert and remove. They are also harmful if ingested by children or pets. Because of these issues, several hearing aid companies offer hearing aids with an integrated rechargeable battery. Similar to your phone or another mobile device, your hearing aid is charged overnight in a docking station. A rechargeable battery typically lasts up to 2 full days before requiring an additional charge.
In 2019, watch for sleeker designs featuring more options for smaller and more attractive hearing aids. Other innovative features may include “Ear-to-ear connection” between your hearing aids, an effective tool for better speech understanding.
If you think you have hearing loss, it is essential that you have your hearing checked as soon as possible. Hearing aids are not one-size-fits-all. To get the hearing aid that is right for you, you need the guidance of a hearing care professional. Dr. Joe Griffith, AuD, CCC-A, is a certified audiologist who can help determine if this technology would enhance your hearing aid experience. He can also provide information about which manufacturers offer connectivity options and check to see if your phone or television is compatible. Call him at (504) 738-4557 or visit accessiblehearingaids.com to schedule your hearing test today.