The first hearing aid was created sometime around the 17th century and was little more than a glorified funnel held up to the ear. With the advent of the first electrical assisted hearing device in the late 1800s, the dream to finally help the hard-of-hearing re-enter the realm of the hearing-well seemed realized, but even that accomplishment was not yet ideal.
For many people over the course of the last century, suffering hearing loss has seemed a lesser evil to donning a hearing aid, and whether that choice was due to vanity, financial concerns or frustration with how the things didn’t workthat choice no longer holds sway.
Remarkable advances in recent years have made it so that the old excuses for avoiding a hearing aid no longer pass muster. Modern hearing aids, like those sold by experts at HearingLife, are as different from the hearing aids of yore as a Boeing 757 is from a horse. If you or someone you love is in need of hearing assistance, there’s never been a better time to address that need than now.
Here are seven reasons why today’s hearing aids are so much better than the hearing aids of the past.
For many people, the thought of wearing a hearing aid causes pangs of anxiety regarding entering old age, and in years past, that fear might have made sense as the sheer size of hearing aids has been downright comical throughout history. From large ear trumpets and clunky headgear to whistling contraptions that were the same size as the ear they were “hiding” behind, hearing aids used to call too much attention to themselves.
Thankfully, today’s hearing aids are small enough to actually be discreet. Some even fit completely inside the ear canal (CIC), which means no one will know you’re wearing it but you.
As with many forms of technology, early models of hearing aids aimed at a general use that would fit most people’s needs. But hearing loss is as specific as the person suffering it. Today’s hearing aids are outfitted with digital and computerized technology that can be personalized to a highly remarkable degree, ensuring that the user’s experience fits her needs.
Less Aid-Related Noise
Yesterday’s electronic and battery-powered hearing devices were sensitive to any noise that occurred in the environment around the wearer, which often meant that hearing aid-generated whistles, feedback and echoes were a regularly occurring problem.
Today’s hearing aids are outfitted with a microcomputer with phase-cancelling algorithms that make the hearing aid highly sensitive so it can routinely adjust to the wearer’s environment, making annoying feedback and aid-generated noise virtually nonexistent.
Wearing a hard plastic device over your ear isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time, but in the past, comfort wasn’t yet a high priority—just hearing better was. Today, comfort and hearing well are no longer mutually exclusive. Plastics have gotten more malleable, and open-canal fittings are small, leave the ear canal open and in general, offer much more comfort than their forebears.
One problem of older hearing aids was that they amplified everything—not just the words you were trying to hear in a conversation or television show. Today’s hearing aids’ technology offers impressive nuance through the use of directional microphones that enhance sound signals to the front of the user while lessening and balancing noise from the periphery and rear, which leads to greater word understanding and less of the meaningless noise that exists in many environments.
The hearing aids of a generation ago had very little volume control, which could leave users frustrated and dissatisfied. Today’s hearing aids offer both compression and expansion that can adjust in real-time. Low-level environmental sounds get reduced and sudden bursts of noise do, too. Additionally, the frequencies at which human speech occur are expanded or boosted, allowing for greater comprehension.
One of the most impressive improvements in hearing aid technology is wireless connectivity. Certain cell phones and Bluetooth devices allow a wearer to hear a phone call through her hearing aids. This advance means that talking on the phone or over the Internet doesn’t have to be fraught with hearing trouble. Instead, the wearer can hear the call inside their hearing aids without even having to place a cell phone up her ear.
The world of hearing aids has been completely transformed by the digital and computer revolutions. What was once a tricky and uncomfortable path one had to take in trying to overcome a disability has now become easy, light and paved with achievable possibilities.