Hearing Aid Technology & Features
Hearing aid technology has advanced considerably in recent years, allowing greater hearing improvements for people with all types of hearing loss, in smaller, more discreet designs. Features like directional microphones and noise reduction can help improve hearing in a variety of listening situations, while telecoils and Bluetooth technology integrate with phones and other technology.
Hearing Aid Technology – The Basics
Hearing aids consist of four main parts. The microphone picks up environmental sound and sends it to the digital processor. The digital processor modifies the sound signal based on the settings programmed by the hearing specialist. The modified sound signal is then sent to the amplifier, which increases the volume of the sound based on the programmed settings, amplifying only the frequencies the patient has difficulty hearing. The signal is then sent to the speaker, which delivers the louder, clearer sound to the ear.
Hearing Aid Technology and Features
Digital Hearing Aids contain a microprocessor that analyzes sounds to separate background noise from speech, making millions of calculations per second, and delivers the amplified sound with automatic adjustments to the volume control. They can help reduce noise, loudness discomfort, and acoustic feedback or whistles – all with little to no input from the user. Unless otherwise requested, all hearing aids fit at Clarity Audiology & Hearing Solutions, LLC utilize digital technology.
Noise Reduction: This is a program within the hearing aid processor that senses noise in the environment and then reduces the gain in the frequency where the noise is present. The digital circuit can do this since most noise is at a steady pitch, tone, and volume. Most speech is constantly changing in pitch, tone, and volume. This feature works to maintain the loudness of speech while minimizing noise.
Directional Microphones: Directional microphones allow you to focus on the sounds and conversations directly in front of you, while minimizing the distraction of loud background noise. A conventional hearing aid microphone is equally sensitive to all incoming sounds, regardless of the direction of the sounds. Directional microphones are optimized to be less sensitive to sounds from a specific direction, typically behind the hearing aid user, and more sensitive to sounds in a different direction, typically in front of the user.
Multiple bands: In a multi-band hearing aid, input sounds are divided into a number of separate bands, each of which is separately programmed and controlled. The more bands in a hearing aid, the better we are able to “fine tune” the hearing aid to your hearing loss and listening situations. All hearing aids fit at Clarity Audiology & Hearing Solutions, LLC have multiple bands. In general, the higher the level of hearing aid technology you select, the more bands will be available in the hearing aid.
Feedback (Whistling) Cancellation: In the past, feedback or “whistling” coming from hearing aids in the ear was a significant problem. Fortunately, modern day advanced feedback suppression systems are very effective in eliminating this bothersome problem. Current hearing aids have sensor circuits to continually detect and eliminate feedback. It is normal for hearing aids to whistle while they are out of the ear, or while you are inserting them in the ear, but hearing aids should not whistle when programmed correctly and inserted properly in the ear.
Bluetooth and Wireless Technology: Wireless connection to mobile phones, which turn your hearing aids into high-quality wireless headsets. The hearing aid settings can be controlled from the phones, and sound can be wirelessly streamed directly from the phones to the hearing aids. Bluetooth uses short-range wireless radio technology to connect devices to each other, generally within a distance of 30 feet. This technology allows for better listening on the phone by sending the audio signal directly through your hearing aid. Many hearing aids on the market now have Bluetooth connectivity.
Telecoil (Telephone Program): Telecoils, or Tcoils, allow you to talk on the phone while minimizing the static caused by background noise. An induction coil inside allows you to switch from the normal listening setting to the telecoil setting in order to hear better on the telephone. Some hearing aids switch automatically to the telecoil setting when placing the phone receiver next to your ear, while other hearing aids require the push of a button. When your hearing aid switches to the telecoil setting, environment sounds are eliminated, and you only pick up sound from the telephone. You can talk without your hearing aid “whistling” because the microphone of the hearing aid is turned off. All wired telephones produced today must be hearing aid compatible through the use of a telecoil.
Manual Controls: All digital hearing aids make some automatic adjustments to different input sounds, and more advanced hearing aids can make extensive automatic adjustments depending on the listening environment and input sounds. However, sometimes it is beneficial to have a “manual override” option to access programs specially designed for a specific listening situation like music, church, or listening to your wife in the car. Manual programs can be accessed through a program button on the hearing aid, or through a remote control. Manual volume control changes are also available on certain hearing aids, or through a remote control.
Clarity Audiology & Hearing Solutions, LLC offers hearing aids with a wide selection of features and technology to patients in Ellicott City, Columbia, Catonsville, Baltimore, Sykesville and all of Howard, Carroll and Baltimore County. Contact Clarity Audiology & Hearing Solutions, LLC at 410-698-6594 to schedule a hearing evaluation.