Difference Between Digital Hearing Aids and Analog Hearing AidsPosted on December 6, 2013 by ECR Louisville in Blog, Caregiver Education, Hearing Loss
If you are like the many millions of people who have bought digital hearing aids, you probably did not fully understand all of the mechanisms at play inside of that new hearing aid. You had your hearing tested and were told which hearing aids would work best for your hearing loss. So, just what are digital hearing aids and what makes them different?
Digital hearing aids use computer technology. The comfort and sound level that you hear can be custom-tailored to your unique hearing loss. This is accomplished by connecting the digital hearing aids to a computer and programming them to your loss. But, there are non-digital / analog hearing aids that can be programmed this way too. So, what are the differences between digital hearing aids and analog?
Hearing aids receive sound through the microphone. Distortion and noise are added to the sound from the microphone. This is because microphones make noise. Analog hearing aids pass the sound on to you with the noise and distortion. Digital hearing instruments clean sounds as they come into the hearing aids so that there is less noise and distortion. The sound is then sent to the amplifier, where your digital hearing aids measure the sound and decide how much power to add in order for you to hear.
After being amplified the sound is sent to the receiver ( the speaker ) and is then cleaned up again before being sent to your ear. This is also where digital hearing aids look for feedback ( whistling ) and work to cancel it before the feedback happens. Digital hearing aids actually perform millions of complex calculations in less than the blink of an eye, so fast you cannot even tell it has happened. The entire process is extremely complicated. Digital hearing aids are able to be set more precisely to your hearing loss. Digital hearing aids also have a wide array of circuitry inside them that control the comfort of the sound and make speech easier to hear in noise.
Why Do Some People Have Difficulty Changing from Analog to Digital Hearing Aids?
Some people who have worn analog hearing aids for a long period of time have been unsucessful when they first tried digital hearing aids. If digital is so much better, why do these people not like them? Over time we are conditions to like or dislike certain things. Many people did not like some kind of food when they were young, but later they learn to like it. We call this developing a taste for it. The same is true with switching from analog to digital hearing aids, especially if you were happy with your analog hearing aids.
Your brain becomes accustomed to hearing sounds a certain way, particularly if you felt positive about the way it sounded with your analog hearing aid. The sound is a whole lot more crisp and full when you first put on your new digital hearing aids. This can be overpowering to some and the immediate reaction is to not like it. That’s when many people make one of two mistakes. They try to tough it out and get used to their digital hearing aids, or they just give up. The problem with “toughing it out” is that it can be extremely painful to hear all of these new sounds when you are not used to hearing them. Then your new digital hearing aids becomes your enemy! Giving up doesn’t help anything either.
When this is the case, the best way for you to adapt to your digital hearing aids is gradually. Your professional can tone them down so that the sound is comfortable, and then gradually introduce more sound over time as you adjust. It may take several visits to the office for adjustments until you get the maximum benefit from your digital hearing aids. But if you persevere, your digital hearing aids will reward you with much better hearing.
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