The introduction of the first digital hearing aid in 1996 has revolutionised the hearing aid industry. Before it arrived the majority of hearing aids were analogue.
What a Hearing Aid should do for you
The hearing aid in theory should make maximum use of the hearing that you still have.
It does not pretend to restore your hearing to what it was like when you were young, and any claims by an hearing aid firm that his can be done are false.
However if your hearing loss is mild or even up to moderate then the modern hearing aid can improve your hearing to a point that you will consider you have no loss at all.
Only a hearing test will answer this question
A hearing aid should give you:
- speech clarity or intelligibility.
- minimum distortion when the sound is amplified by the hearing aid.
- ability to hear important environmental sounds, such as the sound of a doorbell or of an approaching car.
- minimum interference from background noise.
The Digital Hearing Aid
Hearing aids with digital technology contain a very advanced degree of signal processing that can provide better accuracy, sound quality, perception of loudness and environmental noise reduction. Digital hearing aids can have many separate amplifier channels. Most digital models are programmed using computers and can offer a high degree of flexibility and precision.
Analog hearing aids contain more basic technology with less flexibility and precision. But some are more advanced programmable models and remain effective in improving hearing and providing good sound quality at an affordable level comfortable for many patients.
The digital hearing aid will eventually replace the old analogue hearing aid which turns sounds which reach it into an electric current which is modified in a miniature amplifier and converted back into sound by a receiver. That sound passes into the ear and is heard by the patient.
The basic function of the analogue aid was to amplify all sounds at the same level like turning up the volume on a television set. This causes a problem with background noise which becomes just as loud.
Admittedly analogue aids have been refined and some have two bands for high and low noise but against the digital aid they sound raw by comparison.
The digital hearing aid turns all sounds into numbers through its incredibly small micro-chip. These sounds become binary signals one and zeros (1 + 0).
These digitalized sounds can be separated into bands and each band can be adjusted to suit the needs of the user, which are programmed into the micro-chip.
The digital hearing aid is a personalised hearing aid reacting to the individual needs of the user.
- For example: incoming sounds can be toned down or up while boosting the voice of a nearby friend.
- Digital aids can work on up to nine bands in dealing with sounds and the tiny micro-chip can make millions of calculations per second. These can adjust sound levels to changing situations.
- The digital aid offer is smaller than it analogue counterpart and offers a new dimension in speech clarity.
- Because of its multiple channels, it really gets a grip on background noise and places it where it belongs – in the background.
- Digital aids can eliminate distortion and give the user a far clearer picture of where important sounds are coming from. They are far better in everyday use like conversing on the telephone.
- Sounds can be processed up to 90 per cent faster than a traditional analogue hearing aid.
These claims have been fortified by the numbers of people changing to digital hearing in the last two years.
Everyone with a hearing loss will soon be using a digital hearing aid. It is just a question of time.