Modern hearing aids are almost invisible lightweight accessories with advanced adaptive digital features. The aids can digitally adapt with sound depending on the source (telephones, speeches) and reduce ambient noise to deliver optimum auditory clarity. These vital accessories for the deaf have been through a very interesting evolution over the course of centuries.
Milestones of history
- ‘Natural Magick’, 1588 records the first mention of hearing aids.
- Hearing trumpets become popular in the 1600s. Trumpet materials included glass, horns, sea shells, copper and brass. Musical maestro Ludwig van Beethoven used hearing trumpets.
- Discovery of the bone conduction process in the 1700s, whereby sound vibrations reach the brain through skull bone conduction.
- Concealed hearing aids began to appear by the 1800s.
- Electrically-powered hearing aids appeared by the 1900s. Battery miniaturization further progressed the evolution.
- Invention of transistor systems in 1950.
- Digital technology arrives by the mid-1990s.
Types of modern hearing aids
Several variations of modern hearing aids are available. You need to consult a specialist on choosing the right one.
- Broadly categorized, the classification is between analog and digital models. The analog devices amplify all sound irrespective of the source. However, they are also programmable to a minimum extent. Nowadays, most of the models incorporate digital technology. These vital accessories transform sound vibrations into binary signals to deliver exact results. These have diverse programmable features and additional aspects include reduction of ambient noise. Many aids also have a microscopic protective layer to ensure longevity.
- Depending on their designs, there are four types of aids. The hearing impaired can select from BTE (Behind The Ear) models, Mini BTE models, ITE (In The Ear) models, ITC In The Canal), and the Completely In Canal (CIC) models. The doctor assigns a particular type after evaluating individual patient concerns.
Some pros and cons to consider
- BTE aids are sturdy and easy to maintain. They adjust to different ear types easily. Doctors usually recommend these for children with auditory problems.
- Mini BTEs are improvements on the original model and are very comfortable.
- The ITE aids fit in the outer portion of the ear but are still visible.
- The ITC and the CIC aids are completely invisible. Their small size can often be difficult to maintain. Besides, these are relatively expensive.
Choosing a hearing aid depends on several aspects. The doctor assesses the level of hearing loss and addresses practical concerns from patients to assign appropriate hearing accessories. The aids are available for mild to severe hearing impairments.