Special Features Of Your Hearing Aids – Part 1Feb 21, 2014
New digital hearing aids don’t just turn up the volume – they can do a lot more. Find out all the ways they can help you hear better...
Hearing aids of the past were large, unsightly devices that simply turned up the volume of everything – including background noise. But not anymore! Today’s new digital hearing aids have many special features that help you hear better in all kinds of environments. Here are some of those advanced features:
Adaptive Feedback Cancellation
One of the major complaints by hearing aid users was feedback – a whistling sound you could hear in your hearing aids that could be highly annoying. But many of today’s hearing aids have an automatic feature that detects feedback and cancels it altogether. Keep in mind that this feature will manage feedback caused by placing your hand or a telephone near your ear, but won’t help feedback caused by hearing aids or earmolds that don’t fit properly.
Automatic Gain Control – Output
Also known as “compression output,” this feature puts a “ceiling” on loud sounds. It can be adjusted according to each user’s comfort level, and will keep all sounds below this level.
Automatic Gain Control – Input
This feature is often known as “input compression”, and it “repackages” the speech signal coming into your hearing aid to correspond to the dynamic range of the hearing aid user. For example, if the incoming sound is 60db, and the user has a useful range of only 30db, the sound is compressed so it falls in the 30db range, allowing the user to hear it fully. This happens automatically, and if this function is correctly programmed, many hearing aid users don’t need to use their volume control.
Digital Signal Processing
Digital processing – versus analog processing, which was used in most hearing aids until just a few years ago – takes up a lot less space in a hearing aid. This means that hearing aids can be made much smaller than before – even “invisible” where the hearing aid sits inside your ear canal where no one can see it.
With digital processing, manufacturers can add more programmable features into hearing aids. With the digital processing, incoming sound is analyzed, the sound is classified – for example, speech, or whistling from feedback. Once it is classified, it triggers the activation of other special features, like adaptive feedback cancellation and gain control, as outlined above.
Selecting the Right Hearing Aid for You
A professional, experienced audiologist will be able to work with you to determine which hearing aids – using which features – are best suited for you and your lifestyle.
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