How Do Hearing Aids Work?
Hearing aids use a three-part system to amplify sound. The first part of this process is when the microphone inside the hearing aid picks up the sound and changes it to a digital signal.
That signal is then amplified to increase its strength.
The amplified sound is then sent through the speaker into the wearer’s ear.
Understanding Digital Hearing Aids
More people with hearing loss are opting for digital hearing aids because of their ability to be customised to their specific hearing loss.
With digital hearing aids, it is not a one-size-fits-all option; a person’s specific pattern and degree of loss are used.
Each device is programmed explicitly for an individual using their test results.
Another benefit to this style of hearing aid is they automatically adjust programming and volume based on the environment, which improves hearing dramatically.
Benefits to Digital Hearing Aids
One of the biggest issues people had with previous hearing aids was their performance in environments with a lot of background noise.
These older-style hearing aids made it extremely difficult to hear well in various situations as the background noise would often drown out regular conversations.
Thankfully, with the advancements in technology, hearing aids have improved. Now people with hearing loss have a multitude of options with digital hearing aids.
1. Numerous Listening Programs
Unlike older-style hearing aids, digital hearing aids have multiple listening programs. This allows the device to be programmed for a variety of environments.
When programming these settings, one is set up for environments with a lot of background noise, while others are set up for little to no noise.
With the multiple programs, some devices will automatically switch between them based on the environment a person is in.
Others will have a person manually switch between them based on their personal preference. Some even come with a remote control, making it even easier for a hearing aid wearer to make any adjustments.
2. Directional Microphones
The type of microphone technology used in a digital hearing aid also affects hearing in environments with a lot of background noise.
Some hearing aids come with an omnidirectional microphone. This means that the microphone only points in one direction, and it picks up sounds from all over.
This is not the best choice when trying to zero in on a conversation in a noisy environment.
The other style is a directional microphone. These hearing aids feature two different microphones. One is used to focus on the sound a person is listening to, aiming toward the area where the sound is coming.
The second microphone is used to filter out some of the background noise. In other words, the second microphone is used to muffle the background noises so you can better hear the main conversation.
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Choosing the Best Hearing Aid for Hearing Loss
Selecting the right hearing aid for your level of hearing loss is not as simple as heading into the store and grabbing one from the shelf.
If you have any problems with your hearing, the first thing you must do is schedule an appointment with an audiologist.
They will go over some basic history with you, including what kind of symptoms you are experiencing. If necessary, they will refer you to an Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor if they believe that the hearing problems are caused by something medical.
During your appointment, the hearing specialist is going to do a comprehensive evaluation of your hearing. In addition to going over current and past symptoms, they will talk with you about how the hearing loss is impacting your daily life.
They will also conduct a hearing test to determine the extent of your hearing loss.
If a hearing loss is found during the assessment, the audiologist will recommend a follow-up appointment for you.
This appointment may include further evaluation, balance issue testing, or even a follow-up with an ENT. No matter what the specialist recommends, it is best to follow their recommendations.
The follow-up appointment is when a discussion about hearing aids will take place. Your audiologist will provide you with detailed information about the various types available.
Together, the two of you will decide what works best for your situation. In recommending different kinds of hearing aids, the hearing specialist will consider your communication needs, lifestyle, and what kind of budget you are working with.
In some cases, your audiologist will not recommend hearing aids.
The reason for this is not all kinds of hearing loss are best corrected through a hearing aid. What is used to address the hearing loss will actually depend on the severity of the loss.
If a hearing aid is necessary, the specialist will work closely with you to ensure that it meets your needs. They will check to be sure that they fit correctly and that they are programmed for your specific needs.
They will also go over in detail how to care for and use your hearing aids.
What Options Can I Consider When Selecting My Hearing Aids?
While an audiologist will recommend the digital hearing aid that works best for you, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t options for you to explore.
Your hearing specialist will pick from one of the four basic hearing aid styles.
Most of these styles include a device that fits behind your ear.
This device uses a small wire to connect to the receiver that sits directly inside the ear canal. The majority of people requiring hearing aids use this style as it looks the nicest and works for most situations.
One option that you do have control over is the colour of your hearing aid. You can find clear or flesh-coloured devices, or you can choose from a wide assortment of colours.
Another choice that digital hearing aid wearers have is whether it’s rechargeable or powered by batteries.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages, so talk with the professionals to see what might work best for your lifestyle.
You can also choose a basic hearing aid or a more technologically advanced one.