Hearing aids were once big clumsy things with a cord running to a box worn in a pocket or sling on the body. All they did was amplify sound and while this helped, an aid could not be programmed to individual need. In the last 10 years, especially with advent of digital technology, hearing aids have changed dramatically.
The easy to see change is in size. Many people didnít wear a hearing aid because they felt embarrassed. But now hearing aids are small and discreet. In fact, some hearing aids are so small they almost cannot be seen. Aids are often 50% smaller than previous models and can even be smaller than a 5cent piece.
Small size often meant reduced power and effectiveness but this is no longer the case. With digitisation, hearing aids became mini computers having greater programming power and capability than many large aids. This digitisation has benefits such as:
1. Hearing in Noise
We live in a noisy world and usually canít control it so there is almost always background noise of some sort to contend with. The biggest bug bear of hearing aid users was hearing in noisy situations.
When I wore a hearing aid it amplified all sound often making it even harder to hear. Smart hearing aids have features which help people, either automatically or manually, manage the sound they receive making it easier to hear in crowded and noisy places such as restaurants or shopping malls.
Hearing Aids with automatic noise reduction capability are responsive to changing environments so that when someone moves from quiet into noise and back again, the hearing aid will automatically reset to give optimum understanding.
2. Speech Enhancement
Hearing aids are being designed to focus on speech and not other kinds of sounds. For speech in background noise, many hearing aids have automatic activation of directional microphones enhancing the speech coming from in front of the wearer while dampening the sounds coming from the side and back. So as long as the wearer is facing someone they should hear them among the clutter of other sound. But speech is the key and even when someone is, say, in a car the hearing aid will pick up the speech in preference to other noises.
3. Personal Need
A hearing aid is tuned to each individualís hearing needs. If high frequencies are needed but the hairs on the cochlea cannot pick them up, the hearing aid is programmed to recreate these sounds at a lower frequency which can be heard. Thus the wearer does not miss out on important sounds.
IF YOU DONíT USE IT YOU LOSE IT.
Weíve all know the saying ĎIf you donít use it you lose ití and if you havenít had good hearing for a while your hearing nerve will not have been stimulated. With the changes in technology it is important to recognise that just putting on a hearing aid will not necessarily mean you hear well instantly. It takes time for your hearing nerve to get working and your brain to interpret the new input. The advances in hearing aid technologies make it easier than ever to wear and use a hearing aid, giving you the best chance to hear well.