Hearing Aid Technology Improves Quality of Life for the Hearing Impaired

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Hearing is one of those things we tend to take for granted. Unless we lose our hearing, it’s not something we think about the mechanics of very often. We put more thought into the arrangement of our surround sound speakers than our hearing. As a result, if we develop hearing impairment, we don’t take into account some of the hearing aid options available. Though not all hearing loss can be treated with hearing aids, the most common forms of hearing loss typically can be treated.

Hearing aids have developed significantly over the years. Technological developments have allowed hearing aids to “hear” better for us while becoming so small, they can barely be seen.

The basic concept of a hearing aid has been to amplify all sound – this includes voices as well as other “noise” in the background. Now, if you have hearing loss in a particular frequency range, but your hearing aid amplifies all sounds – the net result is an amplification of sounds you can already hear, but no improvement in the sounds you can’t. This result leads to a lot of frustration.

On the other hand, new hearing aids offer amplification for specific frequency ranges, while leaving the rest at a normal level. The result is better hearing and less frustration for the hearing aid user. Contemporary hearing aids can be custom made to cover your specific type of hearing loss or pre-programmed to adjust to a variety of environmental settings.

Another advantage contemporary hearing aids offer concerns the type of microphone used to amplify sounds. Without getting too complex, microphones come in two main styles – unidirectional and omnidirectional.

A unidirectional microphone has a limited, focused range and its use in a hearing aid reduces amplification of surrounding sounds. This type of microphone is good for individual conversations or watching TV.

An omnidirectional microphone picks up a variety of sounds in a wide physical range. In a hearing aid application, this amplification would be good for attending a sporting event, a church service or a business meeting.

Contemporary hearing aids, especially those with digital technology, utilize both types of microphones and can automatically detect which type of sound to amplify in any given situation.

Some people who have used hearing aids in the past felt disappointed in past performance. However, great strides have been made in hearing aid technology and hearing testing that make it worthwhile for those suffering hearing loss to get new tests performed, or upgrade their current hearing aids.

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Author: Piyawut Sutthiruk

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