Hearing aid technology has improved dramatically over the past several years. One major milestone was breached in the late 1990's when digital instruments were introduced. Digital technology allows a hearing aid to assess complex decisions about processing sounds from the surrounding environment. Even with this technology, hearing aids can still be manually adjusted as needed by the wearer.
Digital hearing aids give audiologists greater flexibility when fitting and fine-tuning a device compared to analog hearing aids. Digital technology has also led the way for more advancement in current hearing aid technology, including:
Older hearing aid technology was unable to differentiate between specific sounds, which meant that all environmental sounds, speech included, were all amplified the same. Technological advances have enabled hearing aid circuitries to lessen the impact of background sounds and enhance speech understanding, thanks to the use of directional microphones.
Directional microphones are designed to enhance speech coming from the front of the user, while sounds that come from the sides or back are cut down. More advanced versions of this technology even allow for adaptive directional microphones that can automatically adjust to the location of the speech source if the source is off to the side.
Thanks to the increased use of smart phones, iPads and smart televisions, hearing aid companies are now able to incorporate easy connectivity to various devices. Audio information can now be streamed from a phone or television directly to your hearing aid, either wirelessly or with additional equipment. However, not all hearing aids have this technology currently available.
Your audiologist can help determine if this technology would enhance your hearing aid experience and provide information about which manufacturers offer connectivity options. He or she can also help in determining if your phone or television is compatible.
Hearing aid batteries are very small and can be challenging to insert and remove, particularly for people with dexterity issues. The batteries can also be harmful if ingested by children or pets. To combat this, some hearing aid companies now offer hearing aids with an integrated rechargeable battery.
Similar to a phone or other mobile device, the hearing aid is charged overnight in a docking station. An overnight charge ensures the hearing aid is ready for full use during the day. A rechargeable battery typically lasts 1-2 full days before needing another charge.
If you think you have hearing loss and can benefit from the use of amplification, or if you have questions regarding new technology available, contact an audiologist.
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