How Hearing Aids Work
Digital hearing aids
Digital hearing aids were developed in the late 1980’s. This was the first major leap in hearing aid technology to occur in over 40 years.
An obstacle to digital technology was the power source. Interestingly, the ability to power a miniaturized digital hearing aid was discovered by
accident. Only then, was it realized, that digital sound could be provided to the hearing impaired.
The concept of digital sound processing is not difficult to understand. All incoming sounds are converted by a digital signal processor into binary
code. The code consist exclusively of zeros (0's), and ones (1's). Every variety of phonetic sounds has its own code.
Because sounds are converted into mathematical numbers, they can be controlled. We do this by programming the instruments to the specific
hearing loss of the patient. In addition, sound that is heard is following the "instructions" of the processor.
This means, that the sound quality, the amount of volume, for soft, medium, and loud sounds, can be tailor made to suit the comfort needs of the patient.
Digital aids have eliminated many of the complaints associated with analog hearing aids. Unlike analogs, digitals can be more successfully worn in noisy environments, in restaurants, at weddings, graduations, et cetera.
As a dispensing practice, it is gratifying for us to be able to offer this sophisticated level of hearing care to our patients.
Digital hearing aids can be reprogrammed, should a quality of "hearing" issue arise. Importantly, they can also be reprogrammed if there is a change in
the status of the patient's hearing.
First invented by Dr. William F House at the House Ear institute in 1961. Cochlear implants were made available for adult use by 1984. But, they are considered to be appropriate only for patients with profound deafness, or no hearing at all.
Cochlear implants involve major surgery, and can only be implanted by physicians who are specifically trained, and certified to perform the surgery.
Implants have been of tremendous value, especially for children born deaf. With training, and the use of an implant(s), these children may learn to speak, and can live their lives as a hearing enabled person.