For hundreds of years – yes, hundreds – scientists have been working to perfect hearings aids so that they provide the most natural hearing possible. Technological advances over the years have contributed to momentous things like FM systems, t-coils and hearing loops as well as a better size, comfort and shape of the devices. While there are still tweaks and upgrades being developed today to continually improve the sound quality and clarity of hearing aids, you can work with your device to ensure that you're getting the best possible results.
How do hearing aids work?
While hearing aids all look different, they all function in the same manner. There is a volume control setting – although some newer, digital devices have automatic controls – battery compartment and microphone, among other basic parts. The microphone picks up sound and transmits it through an amplifier, which is what you hear on the other end. Depending on your severity of hearing loss, the device will apply a certain amount of "gain," or loudness. You audiologist will adjust your hearing aid appropriately following your audiogram, which is an exam that diagnoses your hearing loss based on frequency and decibels.
Technology has made it possible for hearing aids to feature a number of settings that can help you adapt to your current lifestyle. For example, directional microphones have made it possible for people to enjoy going out to dinner with friends because background noise is minimized, as the microphone picks up sounds from a narrow line of direction. Other features available in hearing aids include telephone, or telecoil, switches and direct audio input. Telecoils are a wonderful feature in hearing aids because they can be utilized with hearing loops and FM installations in theaters, auditoriums and houses of worship.
A telephone switch allows you to go from hearing in your natural setting to on the telephone. This is an ideal setting for people who like to maintain communication with family members and friends, because it eliminates the interference that many people experience while talking on the phone with their hearing aids.
Similarly, a direct audio input allows you to connect directly to a television, computer, CD player, MP3 player or radio. Music lovers will appreciate this setting because they will be able to listen to their favorite band or musician without interference.
The advent of digital programming has made it possible for your hearing aids to adapt appropriately to your surroundings through the use of a computer chip within the devices. People with active lifestyles and hearing aids will benefit from having digital programming because they are adjustable with the touch of a button, and some can even save programs to remember certain environments that you are in often.
While not all settings may be necessary for your lifestyle, it's important to have a conversation with your hearing healthcare professional about the best solutions and options for you. They can provide you with assistance in using the devices to their utmost capabilities.