Hearing aids have come a long way from the analogue aids I wore (while I could still hear a little). My aids were relatively bulky and either sat behind my ear or filled my ear canal leaving me with a hot stuffed feeling. In addition, under given circumstances, they all caused feedback.
But the latest hearing aids are digital. They are still far more powerful and adaptable than old analogue aids. First and foremost a digital aid can be finetuned to a wearer’s needs. If certain frequencies need amplification and others do not the audiologist can set amplification to meet these needs. In addition these aids can be programmed to filter out background noise in a way never before possible.
But perhaps one of the biggest breakthroughs is in the size of these digital aids some of which can be fully hidden and worn 24 hours a day. These are so small, there are no batteries to change and they fit entirely within the ear canal right up against the ear drum. For Dr Richard Stein (“Hidden hearing aids offer another option for hearing loss” – Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin Posted: Oct 15, 2009 1:35 AM) having fully insertable hearing aids has helped him in his medical practice. Where once he needed to remove his hearing aids before using a stethoscope, now he no longer needs to because the hearing aids are fully in his ear canal. He can hear through his stethoscope using his hearing aids.
The amplification needed with these aids is lower because there is no ‘wastage’ due to the position of the hearing aid close to the ear drum. Wearers report the sound to be more normal. Lyric, the maker of these aids, says this is because the sound is directed straight onto the eardrum and this enhances high frequencies.
Batteries never need replacing and people can sleep and shower wearing them. The hearing aid is removed and a new one inserted every three months or so.
They cost less than many other types of hearing aids ($3,000) however, this fee is payable every year as an annual subscription and comes with access to the professionals who need to program and remove/insert the aids. One benefit of this replacement is every time a hearing aid is renewed, it is replaced with the latest technology, so there is never any need for anyone to be wearing old technologies. However, these aids are not for everyone and are better suited to people with a mild to moderate hearing loss than those with a severe or profound loss.
Wearers do have control over the volume and can make adjustments without taking the device out of their ear. In addition they can turn it on and off. At first, wearers report a strange discomfort while they are getting used it but this settles down quickly.