Hearing Aids Explained

The Digital Revolution Has Arrived!
Today, hearing aids are smaller, more comfortable, and most importantly - more effective - than ever before, which explains why satisfaction with new hearing aids is at an all-time high of 90% (Kochkin, 2005). Hearing aids today are digital microcomputers that can automatically adjust to ensure sounds are audible and comfortable. And with a host of twenty-first century features, they're easy – and even fun – to use. Even basic models today are light years ahead of the most advanced models of just a few years ago.

That's great news, because in over 90% of cases of hearing loss, hearing aids are recommended. In fact, for most hearing loss, hearing aids are the only treatment. And research has proven that hearing aids not only help you hear better but can actually improve the quality of your life (National Council on Aging, 1999).

Kochkin, Sergei (2005). MarkeTrak VII: Hearing Loss Population Tops 31 Million. Hearing Review, 12 ,(7), 16-29.

Hearing Aids Explained

Dr. Sandi Ybarra discusses the question "what is the best hearing aid on the market?" Your hearing experience is unique to you much like your fingerprint. Dr. Ybarra discusses the process for matching you with the correct hearing aid and helping your overall hearing experience.

What is a hearing aid?
Hearing aids are miniature electronic devices that sit in or on the ear and selectively amplify and process sounds. All hearing aids contain one or more microphones to pick up sound, an amplifier that amplifies and processes sound, a receiver or speaker that sends the signal from the amplifier into your ear, and a battery or power source. All these components are packaged into various styles to fit people's cosmetic needs and power requirements.

Sound processing
Hearing aids today are digital, meaning incoming signals are converted into a series of numbers which is then processed using mathematical equations. Digital processing enables very complex manipulation of signals, for example, to separate speech from noise. Many hearing aids today have more processing power than your desktop computer – gone are the days when hearing aids were mere amplifiers. Complex algorithms separate sound into different frequency regions and amplify each region selectively, depending on the wearer's hearing loss. Algorithms also enable different amounts of amplification for soft, moderate, and loud sounds, so sounds are audible, but loud sounds are not uncomfortable or over-amplified. And, digital processing ensures a precise replication of the original signal with minimal distortion, resulting in excellent sound quality for even the most discriminating audiophiles.

Programmable adjustment 
Hearing aids today are programmable, meaning the amplification can be precisely fine tuned and the special features can be adjusted for each wearer, using special hearing aid software on a computer. Hearing aids are customized for both the hearing loss and the preferences of the person who wears them.