Going Digital with Your Hearing Aids

In Hearing Aids, Hearing Health by Dr. Jason Leyendecker

Dr. Jason Leyendecker
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Hearing loss affects 48 million people in the US alone and the numbers only continue to rise as our world becomes louder and new generations suffer from hearing loss earlier in life. While most cases of hearing loss cannot be reversed, it can be treated rather effectively with hearing aids. 

Today’s hearing aids are not the ones you may remember your grandparents wearing. Like most technology, these devices continue to become more sophisticated, sleek and easier to use in the last 20 years. They now offer more power and a quicker more nuanced hearing experience thanks to the latest in digital technology. While there are still analog hearing aids out there digital hearing aids have become increasingly popular. It’s helpful to understand what digital hearing aids offer in comparison.

Digital vs. Analog

Whether your hearing aids are digital or analog all hearing aids have many similar parts. The basic parts include a microphone, which picks up the sound in a room and converts the sound waves into electronic waves. The second component, which all hearing aids have, is an amplifier, which increases the volume of sounds, and the third component is a receiver, which turns the electrical wave back into sound waves in order to deliver them to your inner ear. The difference in analog and digital rest in the concept that analog hearing aids use analog amplifiers to increase the frequencies of sound to 2000- 8,000 Hz. This is the most common frequency that most hearing loss occurs making it easier for most dealing with hearing loss to hear. 

Digital hearing aids however use wireless amplifiers, which convert sound into numerical codes of ones and zeros. This technology not only amplifies sound indiscriminately but also analyzes the sound by organizing it into tiny steps. Digital amplifiers can suppress feedback, focus on specific voices, making it easier to hear in a noisy room and adjust to different listening environments. This creates digital technology, which you can rely on to have a clear crisp and precise sound no matter where you are.

Digital Hearing Aids and Background Suppression

The beauty of digital technology in hearing aids allows them to identify different sounds in a room and prioritizes the sounds, which you need to hear, while suppressing sounds, which could be distracting or too loud. They are much easier to program allowing your audiologist to help your hearing aids serve you best for your specific hearing needs. If you are a jogger or hiker, your digital hearing aids can suppress the distracting sound of wind. In a crowded room, your digital hearing aids can focus on the sounds in front of you so it’s easier to hear the person speaking directly in front of you while eliminating the distracting roar of other conversations.

Smaller and Customized!

If you can remember the hearing aids of the past were large and suffered from feedback. Digital hearing aids are powered by tiny computers, which continue to become smaller and more portable than ever before. Many of the newest hearing aids can even be controlled remotely by a smartphone allowing our audiologists to make adjustments without even visiting the office. 

Often your hearing aids can be set for different listening environments and change automatically using artificial technology or manually. Not only are they easier to use and more versatile for different listening environments, but they are smaller and more discrete, making it easier for your hearing aids to not be the center of a conversation unless you want them to be.

What else should I keep in mind when choosing hearing aids?

Hearing aids continue to offer more and more for their users, allowing people with hearing loss to live a life of clear listening with less maintenance and less stress. When choosing which hearing aids are best for you, it’s important to understand what they can do for your quality of life. What do you love to do and how do you love to hear? For active people, for people who love music, for those who need to not miss a thing at work or for those who just want to hear the people they love, digital hearing aids are the most versatile option. If you are curious to find out everything that the latest hearing aids have to offer, make an appointment today.