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Hearing Aid Technology
Most hearing aids today have digital technology; this is some of the most advanced technology available. This type of hearing technology contains a programmable computer chip; this allows for a great way to match a patient’s hearing loss with his/her hearing aid prescription. In addition, this technology allows the hearing aid design to store information about your hearing loss and personal preferences for listening and use. Among the benefits of digital technology is improved flexibility and fine tuning capabilities of the instruments. This allows for precise hearing aid fittings that will improve overall performance in many different listening environments. There are several levels of digital technology to choose from and this primarily driven by the needs of your lifestyle and listening environments.
Please remember, there is not one solution for every patient. Everybody’s lifestyle is different and it is best to assess your specific listening needs to get the most appropriate hearing solution for you! Below are some technological features of hearing aids that are available and you can discuss with your Audiologist:
Noise Reduction Features
Directional Microphones Directional Microphones help to improve speech intelligibility in teh presence of background noise. This is accomplished by reducing the sounds coming from the sid enad back of the hearing aid user by changing the microphone array and/or turning off the microphone.
Low-Level Background Noise Some sounds in the environment can be bothersome to the hearing aid user, these sounds can include air conditioners, fans, low-level machine noise, etc. Most digital hearing aids have some noise reduction to help reduce the effects of low, steady-state ambient background noise while preserving the ability to hear conversation.
Speech in Noise Listening in a loud, noisy restaurant can be difficult for the heairng aid user. Most of today's digital hearing instruments have features that help to inprove listening in this type of environment.
Wind Noise Reduction This technology utilizes a wind identification and classification system, allowing the hearing aid user to comfortable enjoy outdoor settings while effectively managing wind noise.
Feedback Reduction Technology
Feedback is the whistling noise that can occasionally happen when the sound from the hearing aid is picked up by the microphone(s). There are several factors and reasons why feedback may be experienced; however, there are solutions for reducing feedback as well. Most hearing aids today have features to help reduce this feedback. Many times, a simple calibration test is all that is needed while the patient is wearing the hearing aids.
Multiple Memories or Programs
As our listening environments change, hearing aids can have different memories or programs to help the patient deal with this type of varied listening situation. To access the additional memories the patient will often push a button on the hearing instruments themselves or use a remote control device.
Today, there are many different ways to use your hearing aid(s) with the telephone. Some hearing aids come with a feature to help improve telephone compatibility and this is known as a telecoil (or t-coil). A t-coil is beneficial because when activated, the t-coil allows coupling of the hearing aid to sources of electromagnetic energy (this is detected from phones, assistive listening devices, etc.). This allows for direct communication between the hearing aid and the telephone without any interference from feedback. In addition, the microphone of the hearing aid can be reduced or turned off and the t-coil activated to help improve phone communication without possible interference from other sources of noise in the room. Also, be sure to talk to your Audiologist about other strategies to improve communication on the telephone.
Today’s hearing aids are able to combine digital and Bluetooth technology to enhance and change the way hearing aid users stay connected. The patient hears as the sound signal is transmitted wirelessly directly to his/her own hearing aids from a variety of audio devices. This technology can be utilized with cell phones, MP3 players, televisions and other devices.
Some of the hearing instruments can generate a broadband sound that can be used in tinnitus therapies. Be sure to ask your Audiologist if this technology is appropriate for you!
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