Hearing Aids Have Changed Dramatically in the Last Few Years
If you haven’t thought about hearing aids since your great grandfather wore one to your violin recital, you might be shocked at how much they’ve changed. In fact, hearing aids have changed so much in the last few years many of our customers tend not to think of them as just hearing aids. Not only are hearing aids far more discreet (with some of them being completely hidden in the ear canal), but they use sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) and Bluetooth which add a whole other level of sound quality, clarity and, frankly, usefulness. There was a time that you couldn’t use hearing aids with telephones. Now digital hearing aids will sync right to your smartphone.
Here are just a few of the amazing advances in hearing-aid technology:
- Bluetooth features that sync with your TV, phone and other smart devices.
- Biometric tracking abilities, so you can replace your fitness tracker device, or even your alert pendant. (Some hearing aids are able to detect falls in case you’re unable to call for help.)
- Artificial intelligence, so you can filter out noise to focus on the music or voice you want to hear.
- Translation capabilities—yes, this is new technology, but pretty amazing, especially if you enjoy traveling.
- More comfortable, extended-wear options.
New digital hearing aids have also solved many of the complaints of earlier hearing aid devices such as eliminating the “voice-in-a-tunnel” effect and cancelling out feedback (that annoying screeching noise).
What’s the difference between digital hearing aids and analog?
Back in the day, there were only analog hearing aids, which are essentially amplifying devices. Similar to digital hearing aids, they have a tiny microphone, a receiver and a component designed to make sounds louder. But that’s where the comparison ends, because digital hearing aids also have a microchip, which makes them akin to tiny computers. Many of the amazing benefits listed above are only possible with digital hearing aids including:
- Automatically focus on voices (instead of noise)
- Cancel out that screeching feedback sound older models sometimes made
- Connect to other devices
- Discern between situations where you’d want to focus on one sound (like talking to a waiter in a restaurant) versus situations where you’d want to hear a variety of sounds (like at a rock concert)
What this means is that digital hearing aids offer a sound quality much closer to your natural hearing. Is it any wonder why most people prefer digital hearing aids?
Which Type of Hearing Aid is Best for You?
No one wants hearing aids that makes them look like they have an appliance strapped to their head. Seriously, our patients tell us they don’t want anyone to notice their hearing aids. They want hearing aids that work well but are discreet. Below we review the primary styles along with our recommendations.
Behind-the-Ear (BTE) Hearing Aids
Recommended for: people of all ages and degrees of hearing loss.
BTE hearing aids are designed to give your ears an incredible boost in power. The plastic casing fits directly behind the top of your ear where it’s easily hidden by your hair.
The custom earmold is shaped to match the exact contours of your ear canal. It comes in a variety of colors to decrease visibility even more. The BTE hearing aid has a wide variety of programming features and options that may be customized to meet your hearing needs.
Open Fit Hearing Aids
Recommended for: mild to moderate hearing loss.
This style is a take on the BTE hearing aid with a thin tube. It doesn’t plug the ear and it’s not too visible. It keeps the ear canal open so that low-frequency sounds can enter your ears naturally while amplifying low-frequency sounds.
Receiver-in-the-Ear (RIC) Hearing Aids
Recommended for: mild to severe hearing loss.
Our RIC or RITE hearing aids are perfect for active adults. The directional microphone technology makes it easier to understand conversations in crowded environments by detecting and amplifying the target speech signal and decreasing the background noise.
Visibility isn’t a problem. You can attend business meetings, parties and other social events without anyone even knowing you’re wearing hearing aids. You can hide the small hard plastic casing on this device behind your ear or underneath your hair.
The ultra-thin wire picks up sound and carries it directly into a speaker that fits invisibly into the ear canal or in the ear. The RIC hearing aid can come with programming features including bluetooth compatibility so you can connect your RIC hearing aids to your phone, your iPad or even your car. RIC hearing aids are now available in a rechargeable model
In-the-Ear (ITE) Hearing Aids
Recommended for: mild to severe hearing loss.
ITE hearing aids are true custom-designed hearing aids. The entire hearing aid is molded to match the contours of your outer ear. The hard plastic casing forms to the exact shape of your ear making to fit snugly. There’s also an ITE style available that only fills the lower part. ITEs do a great job of amplifying sound.
You can add features to an ITE hearing aid to make it hassle free including telecoil (a feature that makes it easier to hear when you’re talking on the phone), ear to ear communication and automatic programming. ITE hearing aids comes in a variety of colors to match your skin tone.
In-the-Canal (IC) Hearing Aids
Recommended for: mild to moderately severe hearing loss.
Our ITC, CIC, and IIC hearing aids are our smallest, most invisible custom hearing aid products. The ITC hard plastic casing is tiny, ranging anywhere between 1 to 3 cm long. CICs and IICs are designed to fit even deeper into the ear canal resulting in a really invisible fit closer to the eardrum. CICs come with standard features and may have wireless capability.
Special Hearing Aid Features
Many of our devices come with special programming features including noise management programs, automatic adjustments, ear to ear communication, function controls, directional microphones, wireless bluetooth controls, music programs and telecoil. These features help make communication much easier. The telecoil feature is also useful in public facilities with induction loop systems. Consult with our hearing professionals to determine which features are best for you!