Hearing Aid Technology
There are three levels of hearing aid technology. These are: Analog, Digitally Programmable, and Digital.
1. ANALOG technology has been around for many decades. It is the most basic technology that offers limited adjustment capability. It works by adding the same amount of amplification to all levels of sound intensity. It is the LEAST expensive.
2. DIGITALLY PROGRAMMABLE technology is analog technology that is digitally controlled by the computer in the office to adjust the sounds of the hearing aid.
3. DIGITAL technology is the most sophisticated hearing aid technology. Digital technology gives the audiologist maximum control over sound quality and sound processing characteristics in order to provide maximum speech understanding. This is used in all types of hearing aids and is the most expensive. Digital hearing aids have been available since 1996. About 99% of all hearing aids dispensed now are digital. Within digital technology, there are three tiers: Entry level, Mid-level, and High-end.
- Entry Level: Most basic digital technology offered. Automatic adjustments according to the individual’s environment. 2-3 manual programs available. Limited flexibility for adjustments. Primarily for individuals who need to hear in basic situations such as: one-on-one in a quiet setting and television.
- Mid-Level: “Middle of the road” digital technology. Automatic/adaptive adjustments according to the individual’s environment. 2-4 manual programs. Primarily for individuals that: need to hear better in one-on-one in a quiet setting, television, and occasional small group settings.
- High-End: Premium digital technology. Automatic/adaptive adjustments according to the individual’s environment. 2-5 manual programs available. Most advanced feedback, noise, and wind management systems. Greatest flexibility for adjustments. Primarily for individuals who are always on the go, and in challenging situations often such as: noisy situations (restaurant/small and large groups, etc.), reverberant rooms, telephone, television, one-on-one in quiet, etc.
It should be noted that all levels of digital hearing aids can connect to telephones (cellphones), IPODs, MP3 players, etc. via Bluetooth technology.
Automatic– Automatically switches from an omni-directional microphone to a fixed directional microphone depending on the individual’s environment.
Automatic/Adaptive– Automatically switches from an omni-directional microphone to a fixed directional microphone depending on the individual’s environment. In addition, it adapts to where speech is coming from for maximum speech understanding.
The costs of hearing aids range from $1500-$3500 for one device. The cost of the hearing aid is determined by the type of technology that is chosen. The type of technology that is chosen is based on the individual’s lifestyle, concerns, and goals for hearing.