the-four-best-hearing-aid-advancementsDid you know your hearing aid can now link to your iPad or cell phone? Or that some have revolutionary new technology that enables the latest models to be water resistant, and some are virtually invisible? Now, more than ever, it's easier to find a hearing aid to fit your active lifestyle.

To say hearing aids have come a long way is an understatement. Digital technology has revolutionized their design, making them both smaller and easier to adjust. Some are even rechargeable, meaning there's no need to stock up on small batteries. 

These innovations are made possible by digital technology--a vast improvement over the previous analog hearing aids.  

Analog vs. digital hearing aids

Analog hearing aids amplify all sounds in the same way.  Some are programmed with microchips that enable them to be adjusted for a wide variety of environments, from classrooms to restaurants. Analog hearing aids make all sounds louder, including both speech and background noise.

Digital hearing aids are different because they convert sound waves into digital signals to duplicate the sound precisely. This means they have less background noise and whistling. Even better, they can be programmed to fit the needs for each individual's hearing loss patterns.

Most modern hearing aids are digital. As technology improves, analog hearing aids are becoming less common.

Think of digital hearing aids as a laser printer, and an analog hearing aid as a black and white photocopy.

Hearing aid advancements

If you need a hearing aid--or if you think one will be in your near future--speak with an audiologist about some of the following innovations:

  • Hearing in any environment
    Do you work in a library? Maybe you're surrounded by loud construction equipment or you take orders over the phone at a busy restaurant. Today’s hearing aids can hear sounds in all directions in a variety of environments---even underwater.
  • Bone anchored hearing aids (BAHA)
    Bone-anchored hearing aids work by using bone conduction to conduct sound and send the messages to the brain. BAHAs work so well because they bypass the damaged parts of the ear. Through a small, titanium device attached to the bone behind the ear, sound vibrations are sent directly to the inner ear. Once there, they are translated into a signal that is sent to the brain. 
  • Digital noise reduction
    Do you only hear half of the conversation when you're dining out with friends? Rattling dishes and background chatter can create a communication problem. Modern hearing aids feature digital noise reduction that is made possible thanks to directional microphones. These microphones are able to amplify what you want to hear (conversation) while ignoring background noise.
  • Wireless advancements
    Bluetooth and wireless capabilities mean that your hearing aid pairs easily with your electronic devices. This means they can connect directly to FM systems, iPods and even provide hands-free use for smartphones and other mobile devices.

Do you need to have your hearing checked?

If you think you may have a hearing loss, it's important to schedule an appointment with a licensed audiologist. The following signs indicate that you have a hearing loss.

1. Difficulty hearing in crowded areas such as restaurants
2. Constantly turning up the TV volume
3. Difficulty hearing those who are speaking behind you
4. Having a history of ear problems, including wax buildup or constant earaches
5. Difficulty hearing higher-pitched noises
6. Constantly asking others to repeat themselves on the job


The difference between an audiologist and a hearing aid dispenser

There is no shortage of hearing aid dealers in the Raleigh area. However, there are several convincing reasons to purchase your hearing aid from an audiologist instead of a retail dealer.

While both hearing aid dispensers and audiologists can evaluate your hearing and fit hearing aids, audiologists must have extensive credentials. Typically, audiologists must have a degree--usually a master's or doctorate--as well as pass state and national exams. In addition, they must have more than 1,800 hours of clinical training before graduation.

Many local hearing aid retailers in the Triangle area are not affiliated with a physician specializing in treating the ears, nose and throat. An ENT has the expertise to uncover any structural problems that may be causing hearing difficulties.

Not your grandma's hearing aid

If hearing aids conjure images of an elderly grandmother adjusting a device that whistles every time she uses the phone, you need to realize that today's hearing aids are completely different.

Now, more than ever, they are tailored to fit both your individualized hearing needs and active lifestyles, whether you enjoy dining out, kayaking, or watching the latest Netflix series.

For more information, contact us. 


Food and Drug Administration.
“Hearing Aids.” Online.

Hearing Loss Association of America.
“Symptoms of Hearing Loss.” Online. 

Lacey-Mabe, Chelsea. “Hearing Aid Advances.” Advance Health Care Network for Speech and 
Hearing. Online.

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. National Institute of Health. 
“Hearing Aids.”