Hearing Aid Technology for Savannah

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Unfortunate but Understandable

It is estimated that 30 million people in the United States today have some form of hearing loss. That means one out of every ten Americans is hearing impaired! Unfortunately, due to common misperceptions and past shortcomings of hearing aid technology, many people who could greatly improve the quality of their hearing, and thus the quality of their lives, choose not to. This fact is especially troubling given the extraordinary advances in hearing aid technology available today.

To clarify, many people experiencing hearing loss today, who choose not to remedy it, have tried in the past to utilize hearing aids, but the devices available at those times had some shortcomings. Background noise was often troublesome and disconcerting. The wearer’s voice sounded strange to them. The old devices had a tendency to “whistle” and could make some noises too loud to bear. Oftentimes, available hearing aids were large and conspicuous causing the wearer to feel self-conscious. Finally, hearing aids were expensive. As a result of these limitations, many people put away their hearing devices and chose to live the best they could with their hearing loss.

The Great News

What we believe everyone should know, whether they are living with hearing loss, or love someone who is living with hearing loss, is that comparing the hearing technology of the past to what we enjoy today is like comparing the old black and white television set to today’s liquid-crystal flat-screen version.

The Digital Hearing Aid Revolution

Hearing aid researchers have been investigating the use of true digital technology for over a decade but were held back because the increased power consumption needed to operate such instruments required they be very large or connected to a separate power source worn on the body. Digitally programmable hearing aids were introduced on the market in the nineties. While there was marked improvement over previous technology (i.e. they were extremely flexible, could be fine-tuned, and were loudness limiting), they still operated in an analog fashion. Sound entering the hearing aid microphone would be amplified and filtered by a variety of electronic components. Because hearing is such a complex sense, the extent of filtering and amplifying required by the hearing instrument still produced distortion and noise.

Tomorrow’s Hearing Aid Technology Today

Today, digitization is greatly improved, and it appears that the future of hearing aid technology has arrived. Digitization means that incoming sounds are converted to numbers, which are then analyzed and manipulated via a set of rules (algorithms) programmed into the chip controlling the hearing aid. There are now dozens of digital hearing devices available. Some of these digital aids analyze incoming sound, make a determination regarding speech versus noise content, then convert this information to numbers. The resultant digitized numbers are then manipulated according to algorithm instructions, reconverted to an analog form (sound waves) and delivered to the ears without producing the types of distortion that occurred with analog technology hearing aids.

As a result of these technological advances, today’s hearing aids are better than ever at blending speech intelligibility, remaining comfortable in background noise, and processing different kinds and levels of sounds automatically. Background noise in the midst of conversation is no longer the overwhelming experience it used to be. And regardless of the circumstances, soft sounds, loud sounds, or even difficult listening situations like crowds or parties, today’s hearing aids adjust automatically meaning the wearer no longer has to use a volume control or push button. So while no hearing aid can completely restore normal hearing, current hearing technology does an exceptional job at delivering natural sound quality, and as advanced as today’s technology is, hearing aids are now more user-friendly than ever.

Consult a Licensed Audiologist

Before making any decision regarding your hearing care, we strongly recommend you find and work with a licensed audiologist. The delivery system of hearing aids in the United States has changed dramatically in the past two decades. Most states require licensure with continuing education for anyone evaluating hearing and fitting hearing aids. Audiologists have the expertise and ability to provide the full spectrum of hearing aid support from assessment and prescription to fitting and follow up. Consider your options carefully and happy hearing!