Old-timey hearing aids were large and bulky. They didn't work well and served as a dead giveaway that you were no longer young, hip or cool. Today's hearing aids not only work better than ever, they are so small that they are often totally invisible. In fact, many hearing aid styles are designed to fit totally within the ear canal.
These innovations are largely possible due to the development of digital technology. Much like old-school television signals and cell phones, hearing aids used to use analog technology. They worked by amplifying sound. The main problem with this approach is that all sounds are amplified, even annoying background noises. Digital hearing aids convert sound waves into digital pulses. As a result, digital hearing aids can better distinguish the sounds you want to hear, such as conversation, while allowing background noises to recede. Even better, you can often program digital hearing aids to be better suited for different situations, such as driving.
Purchasing hearing aids is more convenient than ever, thanks to useful information available on sites like HealthyHearing.com. You can educate yourself about the available options in hearing aids before your appointment with your hearing care professional in the privacy of your own home. As a result, you can be more proactive in working with your hearing care professional in choosing the right hearing correction solution for you.
Body Hearing Aids
For profound hearing loss, many behind-the-ear hearing aids create undesirable feedback. Body hearing aids eliminate this problem by placing the bulk of the hardware away from the ear. Instead, the hearing aid speaker fits within a shirt pocket with a cord traveling up to the ear that transmits amplification to a microphone located in or behind the ear. This type of hearing aid is usually powered by analog technology and has largely fallen out of favor, especially with younger people.
Eyeglass Hearing Aids
For people who wear both glasses and hearing aids, the combination sometimes results in bulky hardware that is uncomfortable to wear. An all-in-one eyeglass hearing aid provides a solution.
Eyeglass hearing aids also have the advantage of allowing the wearer to distinguish conversation and other sounds that he or she wants to hear from distracting background noises. The main disadvantage to eyeglass hearing aids is that once the wearer removes his or her glasses, the hearing aid is removed as well.
Behind-The-Ear Hearing Aids (BTE)
Behind-the-ear hearing aids are mounted externally but are largely undetectable because the bulk of the hardware is located immediately behind the ear, with a tube leading into the ear canal. Behind-the-ear hearing aids are easier to maintain because only the tube must be inserted into and removed from the ear. Because the hardware is outside the ear, batteries are more easily changed as well. However, wearers of behind-the-ear hearing aids often complain of feeling "plugged up" along with muffled sound quality. Wearing glasses with behind-the-ear hearing aids is also sometimes uncomfortable.
In-the-ear hearing aids are inserted into the ear canal, largely invisible to observers. Some models are designed to fit a portion of the concha (in-the-canal or ITC). Other models are designed to be inserted more deeply into the ear canal (completely-in-the-canal or CIC). In-the-ear hearing aids are popular among younger adults for aesthetic reasons. They also produce less of the "plugged up" sensation that can occur with larger hearing aids. However, because of their small size, they can be difficult to handle if wearers lack dexterity in their hands and fingers.
Kenneth Bassett loves health technology. He enjoys researching and blogging about tech that helps people improve their quality of life.