A Hearing aid is a sound-amplifying device which is designed to aid people having a partial or complete hearing loss. This technology has advanced significantly over the past decade. These digital machines are designed and developed to best suit the individual needs.
Selecting a hearing aid that meets your needs require two things. First identifying the style of the device that you would need. Two, more importantly, the level of technology inside of the device. The style of the hearing aid doesn’t matter so much when you compare two or more hearing machines. But the level of technology inside them can have a vast difference.
In this article, we will make you aware of the different types and technologies available in the hearing aid industry. Then after we will help you learn the major differences between all technology level so that you can choose the right one for you.
Hearing Aid Types
The hearing aid has a vast range based on size, shape which suits the needs of an individual. Given below is the list of hearing aid types –
Behind the ear hearing aid (BTE hearing aid): This type of hearing aid may be the choice for you if you are suffering from deafness and your ear canals are very small. It will sit comfortably behind your ear transmitting sound through a tube to either a dome that rests at your ear canal or an earmold that sits inside your ear.
In the ear hearing aid (ITE hearing aid): This hearing aid fits within the outer portion of the ear.
The receiver in the Ear hearing aid (RITE hearing aid): It is also called receiver in the canal hearing aid. It consists of a case that sits behind your ear. But unlike BTE devices, receiver piece goes inside the ear which makes it smaller than BTEs.
In the canal hearing aid (ITC hearing aid): This hearing aid fits in the ear canal and a smaller portion of it shows in the outer ear.
Completely in the canal hearing aid (CIC hearing aid): As the name suggests, this hearing aid is completely in the canal. Only the small portion of it(tiny removal handle) shows outside the ear canal.
Contralateral Routing Of Signals hearing aids (CROS hearing aid): CROS hearing aid is useful when you have a poorer hearing in one ear. It includes a microphone which is worn on the poorer hearing ear. It picks sound from an environment and feeds it to the hearing aid worn on the better hearing ear.
Bone conduction hearing aid: In this machine, the user wears a vibrating device on the bone behind the ear and sound is transferred to the ear through this device.
Parts & components of Hearing aids:
- Microphone: receives auditory signals and convert them to electric signals.
- Processor: makes the electrical signal louder.
- Receiver: converts the amplified signal back to the acoustic signal and sends it to the ear canal.
- Battery: powers the device.
- Electronic Circuitry: electric circuit inside hearing aid for its functioning.
Hearing aid technologies
In Basic hearing aid technology, manual adjustment is needed like pushing a button on the aids to reduce noise coming from behind, volume control can be adjusted. This technology has limited adjustments. They are less automated than advanced technology.
Hearing aid features for basic technology.
Channels: The Channel separates the sound signal into distinct sections for processing. It allows customization of hearing aid prescription all pitches. The number of channels in hearing aid implies greater ability to customize the frequency response.
Digital Noise Reduction: As the name suggests, it reduces the noise in the signal if any. It analyses the signal and determines if the signal contains unwanted noise. And finally, reduces it and makes it less annoying to the listener.
Directional Microphone Systems: It is based on a direction and gives preference to the sounds which are coming from the front of the wearer and reduces the sound from all other directions.
Impulse Noise Reduction: It helps in improving listening comfort. It smoothes the quick impulsive noises like typing in the keyboard, dishes rattling, car keys rattling etc.
Telecoil: Telecoil also called an induction coil. It’s nothing more than a tiny coil of wire around a core that will induce an electric current in the coil in the presence of a changing magnetic field. It has wireless features that pick up the electromagnetic signal from older telephone or looped room, whose speaker was driven by powerful magnets. As a result, a user is able to hear the telephone better using a hearing aid. Telecoils are not available in a few smaller models due to space limitations.
Feedback Management System: It reduces the occurrence of a whistling sound. To improve the feedback mechanism, Basic feedback management systems may reduce overall amplification whereas Advanced feedback management systems do not affect overall amplification.
Using FM Compatibility, you can connect your hearing aids wirelessly with FM systems. Sometimes, this connection is made via a special attachment called boot. It improves the signal to noise ratio.
In this level, the features of hearing aids became more advanced and automatic than in basic technology. Advanced technology provides more benefits to the user.
Features included in Basic hearing aid technologies
Bluetooth technology: Using Bluetooth technology, you can wirelessly connect to mobile phones, mp3, and other Bluetooth devices. It eliminates feedback or interference and improves the signal to noise ratio. Hence making it comfortable for the wearer to hear sounds.
Data Logging: It stores data about listening environments. Hearing healthcare professional analyze this data to improve the fitting.
Wind noise reduction: It is helpful for people who spend their time outside. Its work is to reduce the noise of wind passing through the hearing aid microphone.
Learning features: As we said that advanced technology has automated features so here wearer can set log settings for the certain environment and then these changes begin automatically according to the sound environment.
Binaural processing: This can be used for the synchronous operation of hearing aid or to pass auditory signals from one aid to the other. Basically, two hearing aids communicate with each other.
3) Audio Processing technology
The electronic circuitry of various hearing aids differs even their type and style is the same. Under processing technology comes audio processing. Audio processing is of two types- analog and digital. Hearing aids can be analog or digital. Let’s see what are their advantages.
Analog Hearing Aids
Analog hearing aid amplifies all sounds whether it is sound or noise. Some are programmable. Microchip stores these program settings information. You can set it according to various listening environments. This makes it user-friendly and comfortable.
Advantages of Analog Hearing Aid
- Sometimes they are more powerful than digital hearing aid.
- Generally, cost less than digital hearing aid.
- Sometimes people who want to use their hearing aid for a long time prefer analog hearing aid.
Digital Hearing Aids
The latest hearing aid technology involves Digital Hearing Aids. They have all the features that an analog hearing aid has. The difference is that they convert sound waves to digital signals and produces the exact duplicate of the sound rather than just amplifying it.
- Most adjustable and flexible.
- Highly programmable for different listening environments.
- ‘Noise reduction algorithm’ helps for reducing background noise.
Choosing a right level of Hearing aid technology for you
There are mainly six differences in hearing aids that you need to look out before choosing a right level of technology for you.
Customizability refers to the range of amplification (or frequency) that a hearing aid device can perform. If your hearing aid has a low number of channels, you would get less precision in hearing. Unlikely in advanced technology, there can be 20+ channels and a high number of channels helps in a fine precision of hearing and this also allows your hearing aid to be well programmed up to your prescription.
The ability of a device to perform well in the noisy background:
Most of the hearing aids have the ability of binaural synchronization i.e. they communicate back & forth between themselves. This helps in hearing background noise and improving hearing conditions as it has four microphones instead of two microphones on both ears which are communicating with each other and hence helps in finding the better listening landscape in a noisy background. Premium level of technology can do this more precisely than basic one which may not perform well in a noisy background.
Ease of use:
The basic level of technology may have less number of programs and may not help you in better listening in the noisy background. But advanced technology has a large number of programs which can help you to listen better. Moreover, you have to adjust settings for hearing in different environments but advanced technology does it automatically for you. It automatically turns the settings according to the environment you are in.
Comfort in sound:
When you find yourself in a kind of environment where a harsh sound is present, a hearing aid with advanced technology helps you to get rid of those sounds by blocking them as they have advanced digital features. In contrast, a basic technology may not have such features and as a result, you’ll find it difficult to hear in a harsh sound background.
If you want connectivity with devices like telephone and Bluetooth devices and also wants a potential rechargeability, you must go with the upper level of technology. Most of the brands do not allow connectivity at a basic level.
If you want an advanced level of technology rather than a basic level, you have to spend more money. You have to spend almost $1000 more for a premium level technology than for basic level. But it’s worth it if you want advanced features in your hearing aid and wants a better hearing. But if you are someone who stays at home all the time and watches TV and has less conversation with people then you will be ok with the basic level of technology.
We hope that, once you finish reading this article, you will have enough knowledge of various technology available in the industry. Also, you will be able to decide which style & type is right for you. If you need any advice or help related to any hearing problem, visit our clinic or dial our toll-free number 1800-121-4408.