Introduction

image

For a client who is about to go through the process of perhaps purchasing a hearing aid it can be very confusing and mind baffling to have a small acrylic or plastic device no bigger than a 50 cent piece placed in front of them and be told, this will cost you several thousand dollars!!

Wow! Is my hearing really that bad? No way am I going to spend that amount so I can hear again!

So what do you do? How much is your hearing worth?

Let’s take a look at the history of hearing aids to try and explain how we have arrived where we are today.

image

Digital hearing aids first came to market in the 1980’s and while high-tech for their time, these hearing aids had little success and were soon abandoned due to their large size and high battery drain. Nearly a decade later, once again digital hearing aids were introduced. By this time, the technology had improved so that these hearing aids could be produced in a range of popular styles, from behind-the-ear (BTE) to completely-in-the-canal (CIC).

Today, there has been an explosion in the number of digital hearing aids on the market, however, they are much higher in cost, but have been well received by clinicians and consumers.

Advances in Hearing Aid Technology

image

Omni-directional – Captures sound equally from all directions – surround sound, (omni means “all” or “every”). Although omni directional mics are very useful in the right situations, picking up sound from every direction is not usually what you need. Omni sound is very general and unfocused – if you are trying to capture sound from a particular subject or area it is likely to be overwhelmed by other noise.

 
image

Cardioid – Cardioid means “heart-shaped”, which is the type of pick-up pattern these mics use. Sound is picked up mostly from the front and less from the side while eliminating most sound from the rear..

 
image

Hyper-cardioid – This is an exaggerated version of the cardioids pattern. Concentrated amplification from in front with less from the sides and behind. Due to the long thin design of hypercardioids, they are often referred to as shotgun microphones.

 
image

Super-cardioid – again, this microphone patterns is more sensitive to sound from in front and reduced from behind.

 
image

Bi-directional – picks up sound from two opposite directions. Uses a figure-of-eight pattern and picks up sound equally from two opposite directions.

 

 

Adaptive Directional Microphone – directional microphones adapt to the listening situations, seeking out the noise source (i.e., noise sources that are moving relative to the listener), filtering it out (creating a null point) and enhancing a speech signal (allow a patient to hear speech in front of them and reduce or eliminate noise behind them). The Adaptive Directional Microphone (ADM) adapts into and out of an omni-directional and the varying cardioid directional modes, all the while optimising the polar pattern for the listener, even in wind noise. The ADM is the ideal system for quiet, noisy and windy environments alike.


 

Ear-to-ear communication (Wireless) – Hearing aids that communicate with each other, reading the sound environment allowing each aid to set parameters within the aid maximizes noise reduction and speech enhancement.


 

Other Features

Multiple programs (settings) – hearing aids provide the aid wearer some control over the type of amplification provided i.e., can allow for 2 to 4 programs within an aids that the user may select to maximize hearing in a variety of listening situations. For instance, one program may be used in a quiet situations, another program may be used to control noise in restaurants, and another may be for music or theatre listening.

Automatic Settings – More sophisticated hearing aid technologies available provide automatic settings that automatically switch to the appropriate settings according to where the aid wearer is situated. This can take the worry out of having to manually adjust the hearing aid too much. 

Adaptive noise reduction– hearing aids with adaptive noise reduction sense the characteristics of the background noise, and automatically change the tone to suit. In traffic noise, for example, the amplification for low-frequency sounds is decreased. Unfortunately, the amplification given to the same frequencies in the speech signal is also decreased by the same amount. Consequently, adaptive noise suppression usually does not make speech easier to understand, but it does make listening more comfortable and less fatiguing.

The Latest Trends

Open ear fittings - miniature behind the ear (BTE) instruments that are fitted using an inconspicuous non-occluding (open) tube, instead of the traditional larger ear mould. This allows the patient to make maximum use of their natural residual hearing since the ear is completely open, and eliminates the occlusion effect. It improves “own voice” quality which is showing a trend in consumers actually wearing their hearing aids more often.

Phone Toll Free on 1800 245 880