Hearing Aid Technology
A wide range of technology and a whole host of features are available in each hearing aid style. The cost of hearing aids generally depends on the technology and the number of features the instrument has, and not necessarily on the style selected.
Today's digital hearing aids are typically offered in various levels such as basic or entry-level to advanced or premium-level. Within each level, different technology and features are available.
Basic digital hearing aids generally require the wearer to make some manual adjustments in certain listening environments such as turning a volume control up or down, or pushing a button to change listening programs. In contrast, a premium or more advanced hearing aid responds automatically to changes in the listener's environment, making changes based on the signals being detected by the hearing aid. The hearing aid wearer is not required to make any manual changes.
As the level of the technology increases in hearing aids, so do the availability of advanced features. Examples of some of the advanced features found in today's digital hearing aids are shown below.
- Directional Microphones - Applies preference to sounds in front of the wearer and reduced sound from behind the wearer. This technology has been proven in studies to improve speech understanding in background noise.
- Noise Reduction -Determines if signal contains unwanted background noise and reduced level of background noise if present. Background noise is less annoying and hearing aid wearer's listening comfort is improved in noisy situations.
- Feedback Management - Reduces or eliminates whistling that can often occur with hearing aid use. Hearing aid wearer's comfort is improved from annoying whistling.
- Wind Noise Reduction - Reduces the noise created from wind blowing across the hearing aid's microphone(s). Designed to improve comfort for persons who spend a lot of time outdoors.
- Data Logging/Learning - The ability of the hearing aid to track and learn the hearing aid wearer's preferences in various listening environments. This information can assist the hearing professional in making future programming adjustments and allows the hearing aid to adapt to the wearer's preferences.
- Telecoil/Auto-telecoil - This feature picks up a signal from a compatible telephone and hearing aid wearers can listen to the telephone without whistling. Some hearing aids this requires a push of a button to activate, other manufactures offer an auto-telecoil where the hearing aid switches automatically when a telephone signal is detected.
- Bluetooth Interface - Establishes a wireless connection between hearing aids and Bluetooth compatible devices. Designed to improve wearer convenience and use with devices such as cell phones, Mp3 players, computers, etc.