With so many digital hearing aids available, it can sometimes be confusing to understand the many different hearing aid features and the benefits these bring to the user.
Here is a brief guide to some of the features that are available in today’s digital hearing aids.
Bespoke hearing aids
They are custom made by taking individual impressions of the ear canal. This impression enables a hearing aid to be manufactured to fit comfortably in the ear or even smaller hearing aids that fit in-the-canal. Click here for more information on hearing aid styles.
Programmable hearing aids
Channels and programs
The number of channels and programs will vary considerably across digital hearing aids. More advanced hearing aids have a greater number of channels which help to provide a more accurate overall performance relative to the specific hearing loss. Hearing aid programs help to provide a better listening experience in different environments, for example specific programs for noisy or crowded places, one-to-one meetings and open spaces.
Automatic volume control
It is a feature that is now common in most digital hearing aids making the listening experience more comfortable by automatically detecting loud noises and instantly reducing the volume.
Most digital hearing aids have a switch to activate a directional microphone whilst some of the more advanced hearing aids automatically direct the microphones. This provides the hearing aid wearer with better sound clarity when in face-to-face conversations and helps reduce peripheral sounds.
Background noise reduction
Digital hearing aids can detect background noises and reduce or eliminate these whilst concentrating on more relevant sounds.
A computer chip within the digital hearing aid automatically analyses the listening environment and immediately identifies speech converting it into a clear, amplified and distortion-free signal.
Feedback management system
With analogue hearing aids it was not uncommon to hear them “whistling” and this is known as feedback. Digital hearing aids are less prone to “whistling” but most will also have a feedback management or cancellation system which is designed to reduce feedback even further or completely cut it out instantaneously.
Telecoil/induction hearing loops
Some hearing aids are fitted with an induction coil to assist wearers who are often in crowded places or large open environments such as shops, concert halls, and churches. The hearing aid wearer will first need to activate the “telecoil” by simply switching the hearing aid “on” button to the “T” position. This immediately links the hearing aid to pick up sound directly from the hearing loop or telephone and helps to reduce any background noise.
Hearing Aid Connectivity and Bluetooth Technology
Bluetooth® is a communications technology designed to replace the wires and cables that connect portable and/or fixed electronic devices, such as hearing aids to mobile phones. Bluetooth-enabled devices communicate wirelessly through short-range, personal area networks. These networks are established automatically when two Bluetooth-enabled devices have made a connection and come within range of one another. More and more digital hearing aids are now Bluetooth compatible which enables them to communicate with mobile phones, TV’s or MP3 and iPods without wires.
Hearing aid remote controls
Enable the wearer to select a program, adjust the volume or even answer a mobile phone via a handheld remote control that works with the hearing aids. Oticon Streamer
Hearing aids have traditionally tried compensate for a hearing loss through amplification with two instruments working independently on each side of the user’s head. Binaural processing allows digital hearing aids to communicate with each other and provide an even better result for hearing speech in noise and locating sounds. Binaural processing within digital hearing aids helps to bring sound closer to natural hearing than ever before. For more information check out Phonak MyPilot here.
Wireless hearing aids
Wireless hearing aids offer an ideal example of how new technology can improve hearing and hearing aids.
Bluetooth wireless digital hearing aids can communicate with each other binaurally, whilst also communicating with other electronic devices such as mobile phones, laptops and iPods; the benefits are:
- unprecedented hearing performance
- convenient control
- easy access to modern communication and entertainment systems
- Bluetooth connectivity with your mobile phone which allows direct calls to your ears, hands-free phoning and a clear signal in both ears
- Easy listening to TV and telephone landline
With so many features and benefits, only a demonstration will enable you to fully appreciate these remarkable new digital hearing aids. At Leightons, we offer these demonstrations free of charge.
If you would like more information about the latest digital hearing aids or a more detailed explanation of the hearing aid features discussed above, please contact us.