Hearing Aids for Adults Now Offer Many Advanced Options

The days when hearing aids for adults were oversized amplification devices that their wearers would invariably attempt, somewhat futilely, to conceal in a shirt or jacket pocket, are long since gone. Gone also are the all-too visible connecting cables and bulky earpieces that were needed to complete the full set up. Anyone who can remember the annoying whistling noises that these earlier devices were prone to generate as a result of acoustic feedback will be relieved to learn that this problem is now also a thing of the past.

These issues, together with their severely limited battery life, lack of directionality and their failure to eliminate background noise or to adequately curb interference, served to make the use of hearing aids unacceptable for many adults. They chose, instead, to avoid possible embarrassment and simply to live with their impaired hearing.

Years of intensive research and, in particular, the development of digital electronics have since contributed to a new generation of discreet and efficient amplification devices that are no longer plagued by any of these former imperfections. Furthermore, that same technology has allowed their manufacturers to incorporate a number of important new features. These include functions to enable interaction by the wearer with various other digital technologies that have now become such an essential, integral part of the 21st century lifestyle.

Perhaps one of the most welcome advances in the design of hearing aids for most adults will be the degree to which they have been miniaturised. Multiple microphones with radio transmitters can now send their signals to a concealed receiver and thereafter to an earpiece hidden within the ear canal. Nobody that isn’t purposefully looking for such a device is ever likely to spot one in use.

The use of multiple microphones means that it is now possible to produce a stereophonic effect that enables the user to identify the direction from which a given sound originates more easily. Of even greater significance is the advanced digital speech processing technology that renders voices crystal clear, free of distortion and interference.

New functions that may now be incorporated into hearing aids for adults have effectively placed them in the same category as so-called “toys for boys”, except that these toys may be enjoyed equally by both genders. The ability of the new generation of these devices to seamlessly interface with a mobile phone, a tablet, TV set or iPod and to switch between options with just a click of a remote control must seem like science fiction to those who depend on previous technology. It is, however, a most welcome fact that is helping to revolutionise the lives of those with impaired hearing on a daily basis, both at home and in the workplace.

Besides being unobtrusive, efficient and multifunctional, modern hearing aids for adults offer a more personalised management solution. Data captured during an audiogram highlights those frequencies at which audition is most affected in a given individual. The information can then be used to fine tune the device, so as to focus compensation on those affected frequencies.

The Ear Institute operates professional audiology services from clinics in major towns and cities across South Africa. We provide advanced testing, advisory consultations and a range of world-class hearing aids for adults.

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