You know today’s hearing aids are digital—but what does that really mean? At PDX ENT, we talk to a lot of patients about hearing aids in Portland. Most people understand that recent hearing aid innovations have resulted in improved sound transmission; however, many don’t have a firm grasp on what digital technology really means when it comes to addressing hearing loss. Here’s an in-depth look at the latest fantastic features available in hearing aids and how recent technological advances actually affect the sound that reaches your ears.
Hearing Aid Channels
When sound hits your hearing aid, it’s broken down into smaller units so that it can be digitally processed. These smaller units are called channels. Depending on its processing capabilities, a hearing aid can divide incoming sound into anywhere between two and 20 channels. Each channel is processed individually and can be adjusted for volume, frequency, noise suppression, speech enhancement, background noise reduction and more. This results in clear sound that’s tuned to an individual’s needs and comfort level.
Many of today’s hearing aids operate automatically, recognizing the sounds in your surroundings and making adjustments to the way they’re processed. In each sound environment you encounter in Portland, your hearing aids will recognize and preserve the sounds of natural speech while separating out background noises. This technology results in you hearing more of the sounds you want and fewer unwanted distractions. In difficult or unfamiliar sound environments, you can also adjust your programming manually using on-device controls or your smart phone.
Some modern hearing aids come with the ability to record the instruments’ operations during a specified period of time. This information is stored and then relayed to your Portland hearing loss healthcare provider. This data can be used in conjunction with your personal feedback to fine-tune your hearing aids and automatic programming. More advanced hearing aid models can even automatically incorporate a series of user adjustments into their settings and programs.