Hearing aid have changed a lot in their technology or circuitry. Years ago, hearing aid technology involved large complicated circuits that were often too big to be worn by the user. Today, microchips, computerization, and digitized sound processing are used in hearing aids and this technology allows them to be small, use smaller batteries, and support a variety of important hearing functions.
Digital programmable hearing aids have all the features of analog programmable aids but use digitized sound processing (DSP) to convert sound waves into digital signals. A computer chip in the aid analyzes the signals to determine whether the sound is noise or speech. It then makes modifications to provide a clear, amplified, distortion-free signal.
Digital hearing aids are usually self-adjusting. The digital processing allows for more flexibility in programming the aid. In this way, the sound it transmits matches your specific pattern of hearing loss.
This digital technology offers many advantages. Key benefits include:
- improvement speech understanding while in background noise
- greater precision in fitting
- management of loudness discomfort
- control of acoustic feedback (whistling sounds)
- unwanted noise reduction
Some hearing aids can store several "programs" to help you hear. As your listening environment changes, you can change the hearing aid program. Sometimes this happens automatically or by use of small switch located on the hearing aid or in a remote control. As important, the aid can be reprogrammed by the audiologist as your hearing or hearing needs change.
Today, digital technology allows a variety of very sophisticated features to maximize your ability to discern speech and sound. These include such features as:
- Noise cancelling - special programs will reduce repetitive noises like engine sounds or road noise;
- Direct connections to a cell phone or television;
- Using the sound information from one ear to assist recognition in the other.
- Special programs for music, loud environments, etc.
- Directional microphones that focus your hearing in front of you to cut out background noise.
Each person's hearing loss is unique and therefore the features and capabilities that you need may be different than someone else. These needs should be discussed with your audiologist to ensure you make the best choices for your hearing loss.