Hearing aids come in three main styles: behind the ear hearing aids, usually the most powerful, for people with mild to profound hearing loss; in the ear, for mild to severe hearing loss; and completely in the ear canal, for mild to moderate hearing loss.
The unloved hearing aid has evolved into a tiny computer in your ear, able to respond to its environment without human fiddling. Manufacturers of behind the ear hearing aids have responded to today’s more stylish market. Technical advances such as digitization and miniaturization are likely to erase the social stigma often associated with wearing behind the ear hearing aids and open the market to an increasingly sophisticated clientele, who would otherwise be loath to use the device.
This is not your father’s hearing aid!
Modern hearing aids are technological marvels with complex digital components. Behind the ear hearing aids offer an array of choices and technical features, according to your needs and your budget. The cost of the best hearing aids can vary from £500 to £2,500. The price of course depends on the hearing aid rating. Some deals come with a built in arrangement to replace the hearing aid batteries when that becomes necessary. It goes without saying that cheap hearing aids have less advanced features and are correspondingly less reliable.
Today’s high tech hearing aids will tell you when the battery is running low and when the program has changed. Some will also tell you when the volume control is at the optimum setting. The whistling and feedback that was commonplace on older models are now automatically canceled out. In fact the advanced models actively seek out such potential disruptions, blocking them before they become a problem.
Models now incorporate Bluetooth technology, allowing wearers to directly interface with wireless devices such as TVs, mobile phones and portable music players. What’s great about the very best hearing aids is their ability to link with each other, thus allowing the wearer to control both aids in terms of volume and program, by simply adjusting just one of them. Clever technology stores information about the preferred settings of the owner, allowing the hearing aid specialist to fine tune it to the patient’s specific hearing loss, listening and working environment, and personal listening preferences. Indeed hearing aids can be chosen to complement your life style.
One of the software packages offered by hearing aid companies is the digital directional amplification of sounds. With digital directional amplification, two microphones locate sound sources within a 360-degree arc around a patient’s head and sounds 15 degrees off-centre are reduced. As a user’s head moves around a crowded room or restaurant, for example, only sounds in front of the hearing aid come through loud and clear. This is an important feature in a crowded restaurant, for example. Behind the ear hearing aids are not what they use to be so don’t be put off; see a hearing aid specialist and make the choice to suit your personal circumstances.
Author: J. Brathwaite PhD