Millions of people throughout the world suffer from hearing loss, which can range from mild to moderate and to severe. Many people with hearing loss have benefited greatly from advances in audiology, a branch of science that deals with hearing impairment and related disorders.
Hearing aids, cochlear implants, and assistive listening devices have seen tremendous advancements in technology over the last few decades.
Despite these significant advancements in hearing aid technology over this period, the core design has remained unchanged. A typical hearing aid is made up of four basic components: a microphone, an amplifier, a speaker, and a power source.
These are devices that increase the volume of sounds entering the ear, allowing the user to hear more clearly. Hearing aids used to be large and often visible. Nowadays, they are quite smaller and more discreet and can be worn inside the ear. Furthermore, technology has allowed them to have other features as well.
For example, the Phonak hearing aids allow a connection to a mobile phone and also include a model that is waterproof. The hearing aids work simply with the microphone picking up sound and the amplifier increasing the volume. These can also tell the difference between background noise and conversation and selectively assist in hearing a conversation.
Hearing loss treatment
But maybe a person does not require a hearing aid and his situation can be resolved by treatment instead. In that case, these are some of the ways that hearing loss can be treated. Removal of wax or foreign objects that cause conductive hearing loss. Hearing loss can also be caused by a middle ear infection, whether acute or chronic and should be treated with antibiotics. And tympanoplasty is a surgical procedure performed to reconstruct the hearing mechanism of the middle ear. To restore hearing, a flap of tissue is removed and the membrane is repaired.
Some Notable Advancements In Hearing Aids
Hearing aids have become more automatic as technology has advanced, and many interesting features have been added, allowing people with hearing loss to interact with their surroundings through flashing lights or vibrating devices. Hearing aids have recently been combined with a smoke detector and doorbell or alarm sounds.
Two hearing aids can now work together as a single system thanks to wireless technology. It is based on binaural processing, which mimics the brain’s ability to process information from both ears and reduces the need for manual adjustments. The information transmission rate in wireless hearing aids is measured in nanoseconds, which is faster than the human brain’s detection ability. Some other advancements are:
Amplification of specific band of sounds
All hearing aids process sound, which means that they divide it into bands of sounds (called channels) and digitize it before amplification. A more advanced hearing aid provides greater flexibility in amplifying the range of sounds to meet the specific needs of the user.
For example, if a person only has high-frequency hearing problems, a highly developed hearing aid would only be able to amplify sounds in the high-frequency band. A lower-end model of hearing aids, on the other hand, would amplify both mid-and high-frequency sounds, regardless of the individual’s needs.
One of the critical features that determine whether a particular sound contains unwanted noise is the digital noise reduction system. If unwanted noise is detected, the level of noise is reduced. As a result, this feature has the potential to improve listening comfort. Likewise, an impulse noise reduction system detects and immediately softens transient loud noises, such as dishes or car keys rattling. A wind noise-reducing system can detect the impact of wind on hearing aid microphones and, as a result, does not amplify them.
Bluetooth compatibility is a wireless feature that allows hearing aids to communicate with other devices like phones. Bluetooth technology has improved the signal-to-noise ratio and eliminated microphone feedback.
Bluetooth compatibility has also resulted in a significant increase in the number of TV streaming devices available to those with hearing impairment. Some manufacturers’ new choices allow you to plug one streaming device into the TV and have sound automatically streamed into your hearing aids while the TV is on. When compared to previous streaming accessory alternatives, the connection is steadier, and the sound quality is better.
Telehealth is a rapidly expanding field that presents intriguing opportunities for expanding services to remote places. Teleaudiology is still relatively new, however, alternatives for providing some audiologist services remotely are rapidly being rolled out. For example, following the initial setup and fitting, certain manufacturer software now allows your audiologist to perform remote fine-tuning adjustments.
When you can’t go to the audiology clinic, your audiologist will still want to ensure that the hearing aids fit properly and that you’re managing them well, but being able to offer remote fine-tuning can make all the difference.
Mobile phones have evolved from single-purpose devices to something that most people keep on hand at all times for a variety of purposes. Similarly, hearing aid makers are exploring ways to change hearing aids from a gadget that aids in hearing loss to something that does more.
The incorporation of biometric sensors and health and wellness monitoring tools in one of the major manufacturer’s latest hearing aids is one illustration of what the future of hearing aids may look like. Physical activity and heart rate are monitored, as is the amount of social interaction, and fall detectors can alert up to three emergency contacts. It also includes language translation and virtual assistant integration.
As previously said, Bluetooth technologies are now widely used in hearing aids, but this is definitely an area where we will see more fascinating improvements in the next years to come.
Hearing aids have come a long way in the past couple of years. And with all of the technological advances that have occurred so far, the future will most likely be more accommodating to people who have hearing impairments or have lost their hearing. Nowadays, technology aims to make each hearing aid unique by adjusting it to an individual’s ear canal and having the best available processing to improve communication.