Whether you are new to wearing hearing aids or getting ready to update an old pair, chances are you will encounter some new technology when you get your next hearing aids. These days, almost all hearing aids rely on digital technology, allowing the features and performance of hearing aids to grow in leaps and bounds.
Sleek and Discreet
Most people’s mental picture of hearing aids is trapped in the appearance and technology of 40 years ago. Instead of the chunky, auspicious devices of the past, digital sound processing has significantly decreased the size of hearing devices, all while enhancing their performance. Some of today’s hearing aids are so small they rest entirely inside the ear canal and are virtually unnoticeable to the casual observer. Other models sit discreetly behind the ear, also hidden from view and with a similar look to modern headphones or cell phone accessories.
With digital processing, your hearing aid is a small but powerful micro-computer, built to perform inside the challenging conditions of the human ear. Digital sound enhancement offers more nuanced control of hearing aid settings and features than ever before.
Analog vs. Digital
What is the underlying difference between digital and analog hearing technology? Analog hearing aids were the industry standard for decades. They boost hearing by amplifying all incoming sound signals. Originally, analog hearing aids simply made all sounds louder. With the incorporation of small microchips, analog technology gained some ability to change the sound balance to better suit different listening environments, such as a setting for loud or quiet surroundings. Analog hearing aids offer hearing assistance, but do not have the flexibility or range that digital sound processing can offer.
With digital technology, incoming sound waves are converted into digital signals for enhancement before being delivered to the ear. This means that sound processing can better detect and amplify important sounds like speech and suppress intrusive sounds like background noise or wind. Digital sound also means your hearing aids can be precisely programmed to meet the individual needs of your hearing loss, boosting sound in the frequencies where you need the most assistance.
Digital technology is also unlocking easy-to-use lifestyle features that can help you better enjoy the world around you. Many digital hearing aids feature the capacity to stream sound from your phone calls or television shows directly to your ear canal. Digital hearing aids can also offer environmentally-sensitive sound adjustments, tinnitus relief and a host of other advantages. With the amount of flexibility and the level of performance, it is easy to see why almost all hearing aids today are driven by digital technology. While some analog devices are still being manufactured, advancements on the horizon of hearing aid technology will be oriented toward the features of digital sound.
Choosing a Digital Hearing Aid
While digital technology has opened up new frontiers in treatment for hearing loss, a plethora of underperforming devices have sprung up on online marketplaces globally. Sourcing a so-called “digital hearing aid” from the internet carries a likelihood you will be disappointed in its features and performance. Many hearing devices from untested brands with unreliable technology are neither built to last nor offer the advantages of programmable digital sound enhancement.
The truth is that hearing aids aren’t one-size-fits-all, which is why it is important to work with your hearing specialist to get the most from new hearing aids. Your hearing specialist will use the results of your hearing test to program the way your digital hearing aids handle sound. Digital hearing aids from reliable manufacturers are built to last and often come with a warranty against defects.
If you have noticed a change in the way you hear, the best place to start is scheduling a hearing exam. A hearing exam offers comprehensive testing and analysis of your hearing ability. When it comes time to select a hearing aid, your hearing specialist can help you consider the hearing aid features that would be of most assistance to your daily life and the hearing aid models that can offer you the most advantages. Working with a hearing specialist means that your hearing aids are programmed to directly respond to your hearing challenges with crisp, enhanced digital sound.