If you’re experiencing hearing loss in La Verne, the odds are good that you’ll benefit from hearing aids. Nine out of ten hearing impaired individuals have sensorineural hearing loss affecting the inner ear. This type cannot be corrected medically or surgically, but amplification is effective in restoring the ability to communicate. If you are unfamiliar with hearing aids, you probably have some misperceptions about them. Hearing aids have evolved quite a bit since they were first developed.
How Hearing Aids Have Changed Over the Years
Hearing aids first became available in the 17th century. They were crude devices called “ear trumpets” that did little more than funnel sounds into the ear canals—but at least that was a start. The first hearing aids to rely on electric currents to amplify sound were developed in 1898. In 1920, vacuum tubes were introduced; these battery-powered machines were able to convert speech into electrical signals via the use of telephone transmitters, which amplified sounds and sent them to a receiver. These were similar in basic concept to today’s aids, but a lot bigger and heavier; users had to set them on a table, limiting their practicality. Following World War II, all-transistor hearing aids became available; these were smaller and used less battery power. At least you could walk around with them! Over the decades, as technology improved, the devices continued to shrink and sound quality improved. The 1980s saw the advent of high-speed processors and microcomputers, and in the 1990s, digital technology began to make inroads. Today’s hearing aids are small and comfortable and are packed full of features undreamt of just a decade or two ago.
The biggest breakthroughs in hearing aid technology over the past ten years are listed below.
Hearing aids require a lot of power, and most batteries need to be replaced every few days or so. This can become expensive! Plus, there’s always the possibility that the batteries will die when you’re out and about. Hearing aid manufacturers have addressed these issues by creating rechargeable batteries and portable chargers. An overnight charge is usually sufficient to deliver a full day’s worth of sound. Quick-charging batteries are an option for some models; these can deliver up to eight hours of power after a 30-minute charge.
Direct audio streaming.
Bluetooth® technology has been incorporated into a wide range of electronic products, including hearing aids. It allows for direct audio streaming from a multitude of devices including phones, televisions and computers. Users can enjoy music and other sounds through their hearing aids without disturbing others around them, and are easily able to switch to phone calls and start talking. Low Energy streaming technology has been developed to help preserve battery life.
More natural sound.
Micro-processing technology provides hearing aids with the ability to produce sound that is clear, rich and full in a wide variety of listening environments, including situations in which background noise is present. It allows for more nuanced tones, making everything from group conversations to concert performances easier to understand and more enjoyable. Ambient noise sounds more natural and users can choose where to focus their attention. In situations where loud noise can occur suddenly and without warning, automatic adjustments are available to compensate.
Volume buttons and other controls are often small and hard to reach, making hearing aids difficult to use for people with dexterity issues. Smartphone apps make controlling hearing aids much simpler; users can manage all functions right from their phones, and have the added ability to check the battery status at a glance. “Find my hearing aid” apps can even be downloaded to help you track down your device if you have misplaced it. (Hint: check beneath the sofa cushions.)
Tech-enabled customer service.
Audiologists are invaluable partners in your hearing journey, but trips to their office can be time-consuming—and not all issues occur during regular business hours. Many hearing aids come with remote care programs that allow you to connect directly with hearing care specialists through a smartphone app. They are often able to adjust your hearing aids remotely, resolving your problem from the comfort of your home.
For more information on the latest hearing aid technology or to discuss wearing hearing aids for your hearing impairment, make an appointment with an audiologist in La Verne.