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Types of Hearing Aids

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Types of Hearing Aids

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Hearing aids have come a long way in the past decade, and continue to advance in terms of technology, features, usability and more. Some devices are now so small; they can be placed right inside the ear, making them virtually unnoticeable.

Here are some of the special features available in today’s digital hearing aids:

  • Precise fine-tuning & programming
  • Wireless technology
  • Powerful noise reduction
  • Programs for various listening situations
  • Automatic focus and sounds amplification
  • Sound/music therapy for tinnitus
  • Fine-tuning option to optimise performance
    Some hearing aids allow fine-tuning of the various functions in order to customise the device to fit the user perfectly. This includes more precise tuning of sound increments to better match your hearing needs via hearing aid channels adjustment.

    Consult a qualified audiologist regularly to keep up-to-date on your hearing loss condition, and use the results to re-program your hearing aid.

  • Wireless connection to smartphones and televisions
    This feature enables the user to enjoy activities such as watching television and talking on mobile phones. Even better, the recent availability of a specially designed cordless phone enables incoming calls to be transmitted to hearing aids worn on both ears simultaneously. This will reduce noise and maximise understanding of words. Family members without hearing loss can use the cordless phone just like a regular phone.

    A similar wireless accessory can also be used to connect any Bluetooth enabled smart phone to hearing aids which maximise speech intelligibility over the mobile phone conversation.

  • Contra Lateral Routing of Signal (CROS) hearing aids
    For individuals with one good hearing ear and one profoundly impaired ear, picking up sound from the poor ear can be difficult. This group of patients with single-sided hearing loss will always face difficulty with the speakers are not position on the side of the good ear. CROS hearing aids are designed for these patients. CROS aid consists of two parts:
    1. The CROS aid has a microphone that picks up sounds and voices from the non-hearing ear and wirelessly transmits them to the hearing aid on the other ear.
    2. The hearing aid receives signals from the non-hearing ear and plays it to the good ear.

       

  • Automatic focus and amplification of speech source in crowded places
    Users of older hearing aids often experience overwhelming background noise when they engage in social exchanges. With advancements in hearing aid technology, the device can now automatically focus on the person speaking (while minimising background noise), allowing for clearer conversations.

  • Helping tinnitus patients
    Tinnitus – when a person experiences ringing sounds in the ear – is a common but potentially severe issue, causing distress to sufferers. What is less commonly known is that tinnitus patients often suffer from hearing loss as well.

    Specifically designed hearing aids can amplify sounds while masking these ringing sounds in a process called habituation. In addition, some hearing aids even come equipped with relaxing music to help tinnitus patients cope with the stress of the problem and speed up the habituation process.

 

Choosing the most suitable device depends on the individual’s category of hearing loss, degree of impairment, as well as the size and shape of the outer ear and ear canal.

It is therefore necessary to fully understand each individual’s unique hearing situation, before matching the person to the abilities and limitations offered by each hearing aid.

Before you purchase a hearing aid:

  • Consult a qualified audiologist for a comprehensive audiological test & evaluation
  • The diagnostic results will be reflected on an audiogram, which will reveal the type and degree of hearing loss
  • Compare the daily hearing difficulties encountered with the results on the audiogram to render a comprehensive picture of the hearing situation
  • Understand the abilities and limitations of the various types of hearing aids –
    • CIC: Mild to moderate level of hearing loss
    • ITC/ITE: Moderately severe level of hearing loss
    • BTE: Severely profound level of hearing loss

 

Digital hearing aids

Many of the new generation hearing aids have gone digital and are classified into entry, mid-range and high-end digital technology. There are four keys features in modern digital aids that significantly improve speech intelligibility, even in a noisy environment:

  • Multi-Channels Signal Processing
  • Multi-Channel Noise Reduction
  • Adaptive Directional Microphone
  • Wireless connectivity

 

Managing expectations

Over time, untreated hearing impairment results in poor speech intelligibility and simply amplifying the sound does not solve the hearing problem. The impaired ear faces:

  • Reduced audibility
  • Reduced dynamic range
  • Reduced frequency resolution
  • Reduced temporal resolution

At THSG, we often hear existing hearing aid users who came to our clinic the first time complained that their hearing aids only amplified sounds louder but they were still unable to hear conversation clearly in noisy places. This could be due to wrongly selected style and technology of hearing aid and often we notice hearing aids users are not aware of the limitations of hearing aid amplification.

Hearing loss treatment is a gradual process, and hearing aids will not promise you perfect hearing again.  The outcome of hearing aid amplification depend largely on two factors, firstly the degree of hearing loss and secondly the technology of the device.  In general, the poorer the hearing, the less you may benefit from hearing aid.  The better the hearing aid technology, the better the aid can filter out the background noise and focus on the speech you want to hear.  These not only improve the clarity of speech in noisy situations but also improve the comfort of using the aid.  At THSG, you can rest assured that we will take the time and effort needed to provide the best results for our patients.

We are honest with our patients about the benefits and limitations of each hearing aid, the uniqueness and physical confines of every individual’s ear, the eventual outcome and the time needed to reach a successful hearing outcome. Talk to our experienced audiologists for more information on how to improve your hearing and live an active, hearing-enabled social lifestyle again.

 

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