Modern Hearing Aids – A miracle Application of Digital Technology
Hearing aids have evolved almost beyond comprehension from the days when those affected by impaired audition where required to insert a large, hand-held trumpet into their ear. Although effective to some degree for some users, these cumbersome devices relied upon the fundamental acoustic properties of a horn to amplify sound waves in general and thus simply served to increase the overall volume of sound entering the ear canal.
It was only with closer studies of the functioning of the ear and the advent of audiology that the explanation for the inadequacy of devices that rely solely upon indiscriminate amplification became apparent. While amplification is vital, to be effective, hearing aids must amplify those frequencies at which impairment is most evident and not allow them to be obscured by frequencies at which a subject’s perception is adequate without assistance. This practice restores the correctly balanced array of sound and is closer to that which is experienced by the unimpaired ear.
Since electricity was first used to power these devices, research and development have been focussed on two main areas – making them more efficient and reducing their size. Today’s devices are characterised by their ability to recreate music and the spoken word, free of interference from both electronic sources and background noise, and in a manner that conveys their direction. Some modern hearing aids are now so small that, in use, they are concealed completely within the ear canal and are thus, for all intents and purposes, invisible.
Even the larger units which, incidentally, have a couple of advantages over their miniature counterparts, are very discreet and easily concealed beneath the hairline for those who may wish to do so. Worn behind the ear, they have a longer battery life and are more durable than the small units worn within the ear and exposed to the effects of damp and earwax. This, of course, means that behind-the-ear (BTE) models should need to be replaced less often.
The type of hearing aids that are most suited to an individual, as well as how they will need to be tuned for maximum efficiency, will be determined by the results of an audiological examination. The audiogram reveals not just the frequencies most compromised, but also the extent of hearing loss and, although some may prefer an in-the-ear device, these are only suitable for those with a mild to medium loss of audition.
Many of today’s units are designed to integrate with other digital devices, improving lifestyles both at home and at work. Book a hearing test with your nearest Ear Institute or satellite clinic, and let our experts find the perfect hearing aid for you.