Audiologists are highly trained health care professionals specializing in disorders of the auditory and vestibular
system and the treatment thereof. They must also have an extensive knowledge on hearing aids which enables
them to professionally recommend the correct hearing aid for a specific type and level of hearing loss.
The purpose of a hearing aid is to improve a person’s hearing in different listening situations. Hearing aids
should be easy to adjust in different listening situations, comfortable to wear and almost unnoticeable. There
are a wide variety of hearing aids available on the market offering as many unique features and individual
Whether you have just confirmed what you may have known for a while - that you need a hearing aid - or you
have been wearing hearing aids for many years our Audiologists are highly specialised in helping you select the
most appropriate solution for your needs.
WHAT IS A DIGITAL HEARING AID?
Hearing aids come in two main categories known as analog and digital. All hearing aids contain the following basic components: a microphone, which helps pick up environmental sounds and conversations; hearing amplifier circuitry, which strengthens and augments the sounds; a miniature speaker or transmitter, which delivers the amplified sound to the user’s ears; and the batteries for powering the above technology.
Analog hearing aids are the most basic variety of hearing aids. This type of hearing device simply amplifies all received sound waves, re-transmitting them in their raw form, just louder. Digital hearing devices, on the other hand, convert the received sound waves into digital signals using a sophisticated information processing microchip that is embedded within the amplifier circuitry - Digital Signal Processing (DSP).
The following are advantages of digital hearing devices
Digital hearing devices are powerful and versatile. They are able to adapt to various auditory needs and environmental conditions according to the user’s needs.
The microchip present in all digital hearing devices is capable of analyzing and processing the different sounds picked up by the microphone, which in turn, allows it to block out ambient noise in addition to offering a high level of whistle reduction. As a result, digital speech amplifiers significantly outperform analog hearing aids in noisy environments like concerts and crowded restaurants. This is known as gain processing, which lessens the background noise while increasing the sound of conversation.
Digital hearing aids also have digital feedback reduction (DFR) and this technology is all about eliminating the annoying feedback (the whistling noise that all hearing aids make in certain situations) that is so common with analog models. Digital technology allows the instrument to determine when feedback is going to occur and then virtually cancels it out so that it isn't audible or annoying!
The presence of the microchip also makes it possible to pre-program the hearing aids for a wide variety of environments and hearing needs. Digital hearing devices are becoming more intuitive these days, able to offer increasingly personalized hearing augmentation.
The best way to determine if a digital instrument would benefit you is to speak with your hearing healthcare professional about issues specific to your hearing loss and your hearing aids. Your hearing healthcare professional can help determine if the advanced capabilities of digital hearing instruments can provide greater assistance to you
One of the primary benefits associated with flexible gain-processing schemes is the potential for increased audibility of sounds of interest without discomfort resulting from high intensity sounds. While this is more generally a benefit of compression rather than digital processing per se, the greatly increased flexibility and control of compression processing provided by DSP--such as input signal-specific band dependence, greater numbers of channels, and kneepoints with lower compression thresholds--can lead to improved audibility with less clinician effort. Expansion, the opposite of compression, has also been introduced in digital hearing aids. This processing can lead to greater listener satisfaction by reducing the intensity of low-level environmental sounds and microphone noise that otherwise may have been annoying to the user.
Digital Feedback Reduction (DFR)
The most advanced feedback reduction schemes monitor for feedback while the listener is wearing the hearing aid. Moderate feedback is then reduced or eliminated through the use of a cancellation system or notch filtering. DFR can substantially benefit users who experience occasional feedback, such as that associated with jaw movement and close proximity to objects.
Digital Noise Reduction (DNR)
This processing is intended to reduce gain, either in the low frequencies or in specific bands, when steady-state signals (noise) are detected. Although research findings supporting the efficacy of DNR systems are mixed, they do indicate that the DNR can work to reduce annoyance and possibly improve speech recognition in the presence of non-fluctuating noise. DNR is sometimes advocated as complementary processing to directional microphones. While directional microphones can reduce the levels of background noise regardless of its temporal content, they are limited to reducing noise from behind or to the sides of the user.
Digital Speech Enhancement (DSE)
These systems act to increase the relative intensity of some segments of speech. Current DSE processing identifies and enhances speech based either on temporal, or more recently, spectral content. DSE in hearing aids is still relatively new, and its effectiveness is largely unknown. Directional Microphones and DSP The ability of directional hearing aids to improve the effective signal-to-noise ratio provided to the listener is now well established. In some cases, however, combining DSP with directional microphones can act to further enhance this benefit. In some hearing aids, DSP is used to calibrate microphones, control the shape of the directional pattern, automatically switch between directional and omnidirectional modes and through expansion, reduce additional circuit noise generated by directional microphones.
Digital Hearing Aids as Signal Generators
Since digital hearing aids have a DSP at their heart, they are able to generate--as well as to process--sound. Current digital hearing aids use this capability to perform loudness growth and threshold testing in order to obtain fitting information specific to an individual patient's ears in combination with a specific hearing aid. Sound levels also can be verified through the hearing aid once it is fit. This technology has the potential both to increase accuracy of hearing aid fittings and potentially streamline the fitting process by reducing the need for some external equipment.
Current digital hearing aids are certainly exciting, and the future possibilities are endless. Before long, digital hearing aids will replace their analog counterparts altogether. We must, however, present this technology to patients in an informative and educational manner. Like many other high-tech devices, high expectations often accompany digital hearing aids. Counselling patients about appropriate expectations will continue to be more--not less--important as technology continues to advance.
How do I choose the best digital hearing aid?
Digital hearing devices are definitely the best choice when it comes to personalized hearing aids. In addition to the pre-programmable microchip, digital hearing devices can be further customized depending on your individual preferences. For example, hearing aids come in different shapes and sizes, from visible behind the ear (BTE) models to 100 percent discreet completely in the (ear) canal styles. The different models make it easy to choose hearing aids that fit a user’s particular requirements for comfort and discretion.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS - HEARING AIDS
How do I know if I need hearing aids?
Only a comprehensive hearing screening performed by a licensed audiologist can tell you if you need hearing aids.
What can a hearing aid do?
A hearing aid will help your hear and understand speech clearer in most situations and will allow you to participate more effectively in group situations and meetings. It will enable you to hear soft sounds that you haven’t heard for a very long time!
How long will my hearing aid last?
With proper maintenance, the average lifespan of a hearing aid is more or less five years, although it will be beneficial to consider upgrading your hearing aid as technology advances.
What extra maintenance costs will be involved?
Your hearing aid will need batteries to function. Each battery will last from 5 to 14 days depending on the size of your hearing aid. Wax guards, domes and drying pellets should also be changed regularly.
Can I get away with one hearing aid?
Hearing with both ears is called “binaural” hearing—and exactly what nature intended. If you have hearing loss in both ears, a single hearing aid can help. But, just as eye glasses improve vision in both eyes, wearing two hearing aids provides a number of advantages.
Which hearing aid manufacturer’s hearing aids are the best?
Technology has improved vastly over the last few years and due to e.g. digital technology the products of the different manufacturers compare favorably. We mostly use Beltone hearing aids in our practice. Beltone is one of the leaders in hearing aid technology and provide a variety of highly effective hearing aids at a reasonable price.
Which model hearing aid is the best?
Different model hearing aids exist e.g. In the ear (ITE), In the Ear canal (CIC), Receiver in Ear (RIE), The model hearing aid depends largely on personal preferences, the size and shape of the ear canal and the intensity of the hearing loss.
Can’t I wait until I really struggle to hear before I get a hearing aid?
People adapt to their hearing loss very quickly, making it difficult for themselves and family members to communicate effectively. A person with a hearing loss does not always realise the extent of the impact on his/her daily life. The longer a person waits, the more difficult it will be to adapt to a hearing aid.
HEARING AID ACCESSORIES
Hearing Aid Batteries
We supply quality mercury-free hearing aid batteries that offer reliability and longer life over most other brands. The batteries are available in any size you may need. They come in convenient 6-packs.
- Our Battery Club : Every 8th packet for free -
Important tips for hearing aid users:
Carry extra batteries with you to avoid dead batteries at critical moments
Keep the tab in place on your zinc-air batteries until ready for use. Attempts to “reseal” the tab will not extend the battery's life.
Give batteries time to activate. Wait 60 seconds after tab removal before placing in your hearing aids.
Never carry loose batteries in pockets or hand bags where they may touch other metal objects.
Keep batteries and hearing aids out of reach of infants and children. If a battery is accidentally ingested, see a doctor immediately.
Get the longest life from your batteries:
Store batteries at room temperature (65°F-80°F). Hearing aid batteries will retain up to 97% of their power for a full year when stored at room temperature.
Avoid storing in hot or humid places. Do not refrigerate, as refrigeration may loosen the tab, causing activation and loss of power.
Open the battery compartment door of your hearing instruments every night. This prevents moisture buildup. Battery life is determined by hearing aid size, battery size, hours of use per day, amplification strength and amount of "wireless streaming".
ASSISTIVE LISTENING DEVICES
We offer clients the following wireless listening devices for their hearing aids:
The New Way to Hear TV, Phone, PC and More!
Beltone is the only hearing aid company to offer 2.4 GHz wireless streaming of sound from your favorite devices, directly into your hearing aids. Hearing aid wearers can now receive crystal clear sound from the TV, PC, stereo, phone, and other audio sources, without wearing a relay device.
By pairing your hearing aids with Beltone Direct Line Accessories, you'll enjoy a level of freedom never before achieved. For example, when you watch TV or listen to your stereo, the sound streams right into your hearing aids. You can adjust the volume to a comfortable level for you, without affecting what others hear. And, you can easily walk around the room and converse with companions—and still clearly hear your audio.
Hearing Aid Accessories -
Beltone Direct Personal Audio Link (myPAL)
Our newest Direct Line accessory, Beltone myPAL helps you hear exactly want you want to hear in noisy environments like restaurants, lectures, or meetings. A small, portable accessory, myPAL can be worn by someone you want to hear. MyPal picks up and streams their voice into your hearing aids, in virtual real time.
Beltone MyPAL can also be placed in front of a device, such as the television at a friend's house, to stream sound directly into your hearing aids. Plus, myPAL can be connected to your PC, iPAD, or MP3 player, to stream sound to your hearing aids. So, no matter where you go, you won't miss a moment.
Beltone Direct Line TV Link—Entertainment at Your Own Personal Volume
Beltone Direct TV Link is the first direct-to-the-ear way to watch TV, whether you're alone or with others. Direct TV Link streams high-quality stereo sound from television, stereo and PC right into your hearing aids, without the need for a relay device or neck-loop. Enjoy the freedom to move about the room as you please. And, it's easy to converse with others, and still hear sound from your media devices.
Beltone Direct Phone Link—The Key to Clear Phone Conversation
Small and lightweight, Beltone Direct Phone Link clips to a shirt or jacket. You hear the phone ring in your hearing aids. Simply press a button on Direct Phone Link to answer, and start talking. Leave the phone put away in your pocket or handbag. Hear the phone conversation in your hearing aids, hands-free—as if you were wearing a headset.
Beltone Direct Remote Control—Total Control, When and Where It's Needed
Beltone Direct Remote Control is a handheld device that lets you easily change sound volume and hearing aid programs. Its big screen and simple controls make it fast to start and adjust the volume on your TV, stereo and computer. And, you can make adjustments wherever you go. It's simple to see volume level, battery status and which program is in use.
HEARING AID PROTECTORS
Hair cells in the inner ear can be permanently damaged after continuous exposure to sound pressure levels (SPL) over certain decibel (dB) levels. We offer our clients very small hearing protectors that fit snugly and comfortably into the ear canal allowing you to use telephones, walkie-talkies and ear muffs without having to remove them. Hearing protectors have been successfully fitted to helicopter pilots (under their ear phones), miners, music band members, hunters, industry and factory workers, DJ’s and many more. We use Protec Ear hearing protectors in our practice.
The use of swim plugs is indicated in children with grommets in the ear drums, children or adults with chronic ear infections and anybody that “hates” water getting into their ears. We offer our clients custom made swim plugs that fit perfectly into the ear canal. The custom fit provides a much better seal than “universal’ protectors. The ear plugs are soft and comfortable to wear, are manufactured from hypo-allergenic silicone and are available in a multitude of colours.