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What are Digital Hearing Aids?
Digital Hearing Aids

Digital Hearing Aids are the most advanced sound amplification devices that are designed to help people with hearing loss to hear. All hearing aids whether it is analog or digital have a microphone, an amplifier and a receiver as a basic constituent which is driven by a battery. However, analog hearing aids amplify all the incoming sound irrespective of whether it is speech or noise. Thus, the quality of sound amplified through analog hearing aids is compromised.  On the contrary, digital hearing aids after capturing the sound waves convert it to digital signals. This is just an exact replication of each of the sound. A computer chip then analyses the signal to determine whether the sound is a speech or noise. Then the microprocessor makes several modifications and amplifies and processes the digital signal to makes it more clearer and noise free. Finally, the miniature loudspeaker converts this filtered digital signal back to sound waves which are delivered into the ear canal for the person to hear.     

Advantage of Digital Hearing Aids over Analog Hearing aids 

  • The major advantage of digital hearing aids over analog hearing aids is that they act as mini-computers thus, they have an ability to think and act accordingly and hence they are usually self – adjusting.
  • Secondly, the noise reduction circuitry in digital hearing aids filters out the unnecessary and unwanted noise component from the speech signal thus improving out the clarity of speech.
  • Digital hearing aids are the best in the management of loudness discomfort which analog hearing aids fail to do.
  • Multiple programs in digital hearing aids allow the user with comfortable listening in a variety of listening situation.
  • The possibility of connecting devices such as smartphones, television etc. with hearing aids is possible only with digital hearing aids compared to analog ones.
  • Reduction of acoustic feedback (whistling sound) is effective done in digital hearing aids.
  • Digital hearing aids allow selective amplification of certain frequencies which is essential for sloping hearing loss which analog hearing aids fail to do.
  • Use of directional microphone in digital hearing aids improves the perception of sound in a certain environment such as face to face conversation or conversation in a noisy restaurant.

Advantage of analog hearing aids over digital hearing aids

The only advantage of analog hearing aids over digital hearing aids is that they are less expensive.

How does an audiologist selects which hearing aid is suitable for a user

An audiologist looks into several parameters before selecting and recommending a hearing aid to a hearing-impaired person. However, out of the three major parameters the most important ones are – the type of hearing loss, degree of hearing loss and the lifestyle of the said individual. Lifestyle analysis of an individual plays a crucial role in the selection of hearing aid for an individual. Let us take an example, two persons A and B and both ageing 65 years and have the same type and degree of hearing loss, however, person A is retired and enjoys a sedentary lifestyle and person B is still active and attends and delivers lectures in meetings, enjoy playing outdoors, drives a car and many other activities to remain socially active. Thus, for the person A an Audiologist will select a hearing aid preferably digital with a few add-on features to serve the basic purpose of communication. However, for person B the audiologist will select digital hearing aids with several add-on features like noise cancellation, adaptive directionality, data logging, blue-tooth connectivity and several other features to fulfil his communication goals.

Styles in Digital Hearing Aids

They are available in the following styles such as: Behind the Ear (BTE), In the Ear (ITE), In the Canal (ITC), Completely in the Canal (CIC) and Invisible in the Canal (IIC).

Concluding the topic it is needless to state that the latest trend in hearing aids is the digital hearing aids and its technology is getting stronger day by day.