Aids advanced as computer technology advanced
Today digital hearing aids can stream your iPhone or TV directly into your hearing aid. You can also stream music directly into your hearing aids. All this can be done while also pressing a button for the calming sound of ocean waves or a babbling brook to mask unwanted Tinnitus sounds in your ears. As technology advanced, computer chips and hearing aids became smaller and more robust. You can control the hearing aids with your smart phone, a remote on your key chain, or a handheld remote. In most sizes, you can enjoy incredible speech clarity with a friend or in a meeting with a lot of other people.
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Hearing aids of today
Today, analog hearing aids no longer exist and were replaced with digital hearing aids which exponentially increased the speech clarity in multiple environments, allowed for digital signal processing, and allows many user benefits to hearing aid users. Analog hearing aids were simply amplifiers. Digital hearing aids are noticeably smaller and more powerful than the aids of the past.
Some features of today’s hearing aids includes the capability to listen to the TV or your iPhone directly into your hearing aid or control your hearing aids with your smart phone app. More recently, Signia introduced the Own Voice technology which makes it more natural sounding for the user to hear their own voice.
Designs of today
Most people know that the hearing aids can fit completely in the ear or in back of the ear with a receiver or mold placed in the ear canal. These two design types are called ITE’s or In-The-Ear styles and BTE’s or Behind the Ear types. Both types of digital aids are more robust than the analog aid of the past that your grandfather wore.
ITE hearing aids (In-The-Ear)
ITE hearing aids have basically four different variations based on size. There is the full shell which fills the whole concha (i.e. bowl-like portion of your outer ear), the half shell which fill about half this amount, the ITC which is a variation that only fits in the canal, and lastly the CIC which fits only in the canal but can go deeper and is less visible.
- Full shell: An impression is taken and these hearing aids are custom made to ‘fit like a glove’ for the user. They can typically use one of two battery types allowing the batteries to last up to 10 days (with nightly removal). The face plate of the aids is large so a radio button for volume control and a program button can be included for manual operation by the user.
- Half shell: Using the same impression, this size is sometimes selected when vanity is more important and/or if the user is active and a full shell hearing aid will cause perspiration and itchiness of the ear.
- In-The-Canal: This can also use the same impression and this is for users who definitely do not want people to see their hearing aid. Usually, there is a small, clear string protruding about 1/4″ from the face plate so the hearing aid user can easily remove these aids.
- Completely-In-The-Canal: Again, this can use the same impression and these are the smallest hearing aids supplied for in your ear. There is a small removal string just so the user can access them for removal. Since they are so small, they only can use miniature batteries which only last 3-4 days at most.
BTE and RIC hearing aids (Behind-The-Ear and Receiver-In-Canal)
BTE hearing aids have basically three different variations based on size of the aid or of the tubing. There are two versions of the BTE aid (larger version) which sits behind the ear and comes with regular or slim tubing. The size of the tubing has different hearing qualities, but is normally selected based on aesthetic reasons. Then, there is the RIC hearing aid which is much smaller behind the ear.
- BTE with clear tubing: Larger hearing aid behind the ear has an ear hook which connects to tubing that delivers sound to a mold in the ear. An impression is taken to create this mold.
- BTE with slimmer, clear tubing: Similar to the above BTE, but the tubing is thinner for visual reasons. An impression is taken to create this mold.
- RIC with less noticable wire: About 80% of people use this aid nowadays since the power is much more robust and can handle the majority of people with hearing loss. Even wearers with severe loss can benefit as a power version of the receiver wire can be selected. Usually, a small silicone bud can be attached and placed into the canal. An impression to create a mold is only taken when the user has severe hearing loss.
Functions of today
The functions of digital hearing aids are to improve the speech clarity for users in everyday and demanding environments which also providing ease of use and care. This greatly improves the quality of life for users as speech understanding has positive effects on attitude, heart health, avoidance of falling, diabetes and other health issues. Some general categories of functionality are addressed below:
- Speech clarity: Larger hearing aid behind the ear has an ear hook which connects to tubing that delivers sound to a mold in the ear. An impression is taken to create this mold.
- Reduction of background noise: Similar to the above BTE, but the tubing is thinner for visual reasons. An impression is taken to create this mold.
- Directional speech capability: Digital processing detects voices and helps to determine the voice of interest and focus on capturing speech clarity of that person.
- Feedback cancellation: Circuitry and software combine with frequency shifting to eliminate unnecessary feedback for the user.
- Wind noise reduction: Wind noise characteristics can be detected and the aids can eliminate or dramatically reduce the effective sound of these noises.
- Remote control: Although most hearing aids can be manually operated, it is usually recommended to control the hearing aids remotely as physical touching creates opportunities to accidentally remove the hearing aids.
- Bluetooth streaming: Ease of use is captured when someone answers their iPhone and hears directly into their aid or they watch TV and hear the football game directly into their hearing aids. It is absolutely incredible.
Lansdowne Hearing service
At Lansdowne Hearing, we offer hearing aids at reasonable prices for the basic, mid-level and premium levels. We spend time to find about your hearing loss and how it impacts your life. In addition to a thorough counseling, we perform an otoscopic examination and thorough testing on your hearing loss. Combining all of this along with your budget, we collaborate with you for the best hearing aids so you can have the best speech clarity in all situations.
Lansdowne Hearing also will spend time with you to discuss the many different features available on the many models of hearing aids if you are interested. This includes 360 degree hearing, feedback cancellation, CROS/BiCROS capabilities and tinnitus capable hearing aids. We can also discuss the hearing aids that stream directly into your iPhone or TV and hearing aids with batteries that are rechargeable and do not require changing for 3-5 years.