The digital revolution has made a huge impact on the way hearing aids look and work. They can be so small they are virtually invisible. They can also more accurately mimic the way you used to hear before you experienced hearing loss.
Dual microphones allow you to hear better in noisy situations. Some can even identify the source of the noise and reduce it.
Open technology that keeps the ear canal unobstructed eliminates that “talking in a barrel” effect.
Feedback cancellation does just that, it cancels feedback before you hear it as an annoying whistle.
Hands free technology automatically adjusts to your listening environment, whether you are on the phone, in a crowd or in wind.
Using a computer, your digital hearing aid can be programmed to meet your individualized needs.
There are four technology levels: Economy, basic, advanced and best. Each level offers digital hearing solutions based on your level of hearing loss, lifestyle and budget.
There are several basic styles of hearing aids. The styles differ by size, their placement on or inside the ear and the degree to which they amplify sound.
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids consist of a hard plastic case worn behind the ear and connected to a plastic ear mold that fits inside the outer ear. The electronic parts are held in the case behind the ear. Sound travels from the hearing aid through the ear mold and into the ear. BTE aids are used by people of all ages for mild to profound hearing loss.
Receiver in the canal, also referred to as a receiver in–the–ear, or “open-fit” instrument is a small, open–fit aid that sits completely behind the ear, with only a narrow tube and earbud inserted into the ear canal, enabling the canal to remain open.
Custom aids are made to the shape of your ear. They come in different sizes based upon the amount of volume necessary for your level of hearing loss.
In the ear (ITE) hearing aids fit completely inside the outer ear and are used for mild to severe hearing loss. The case holding the electronic components is made of hard plastic.
In the canal (ITC) hearing aids fit into the bowl of the ear and are used for mild to moderately severe hearing loss.
Some ITE and ITC aids may have certain added features installed, such as a telecoil. A telecoil is a small magnetic coil that allows users to receive sound through the circuitry of the hearing aid, rather than through its microphone. This makes it easier to hear conversations over the telephone. A telecoil also helps people hear in public facilities that have installed special sound systems, called induction loop systems.
Completely–in–canal (CIC) hearing aids are nearly hidden in the ear canal. These are used for mild to moderately severe hearing loss. They usually are not recommended for people with severe to profound hearing loss because their reduced size limits their power and volume.
Dr. Robert Mario, PhD, BC-HIS, is the director of Mario Hearing and Tinnitus Clinics, with locations in West Roxbury, Cambridge and Melrose. He can be reached at 781-979-0800 or visit their website, www.mariohearingclinics.com. Archives of articles from previous issues can be read at www.fiftyplusadvoca