Going Digital with Your Hearing Aids

Going Digital with Your Hearing Aids

Alongside other technical advancements, hearing aids have made huge strides, making hearing technology better than ever before. Although analog hearing aids help many people with hearing loss, the real game-changer was when hearing aids went digital.

Hearing aids have three core components: a microphone to capture sound signals, an amplifier to raise the volume and a receiver to deliver the sounds to your ears. Let’s look at the differences between analog and digital hearing aids, and explore some of the benefits that digital hearing aids have to offer.

Analog Hearing Aids

Analog hearing aids work by enhancing all of the sounds in the immediate environment.  This may sound attractive, but analog hearing aids also exacerbate sounds that you may want to avoid. This makes loud sounds even louder, making them very uncomfortable to experience.

Analog hearing aids can be difficult to wear in crowded places because they intensify any sound, and they can also make it almost impossible to hear on the telephone or watch the television in the presence of background noise. When amplifying loud sounds, there is the chance that they can even lead to additional hearing loss.

Earlier analog hearing aids were large and conspicuous. While today’s analog hearing aids have made huge strides over earlier iterations, digital hearing aids are now the preferred technology for and hearing aid user.

The digital revolution

The first commercially available digital hearing aid was released in 1995, since then, they have become even more powerful and feature-packed.

Digital hearing aids operate on the same concepts as analog, but add extra incoming sound processing to better fit the listening experience to the hearing needs of the user. A microphone continues to feed incoming sound into amplification circuits that transmit sound to an ear receiver.  They use a DSP or Digital Signal Processor to process sound.   This is a small computer chip that can interpret and control sound waves in many ways. These advanced features offered by digital hearing aids are not possible with analog equipment.

Benefits of going digital

Modern digital hearing devices will ultimately help almost every person with mild to severe hearing loss to improve his or her hearing. The explosive growth of ever more advanced technology and algorithms for digital signal processing makes automatic hearing aids the best option for improved hearing.

Digital hearing aids are special in their ability to process and isolate distracting background noise while at the same time improving the vital sound signals required for comprehension. Hearing programming can be much more fine-grained, making a prescription much closer to normal hearing than is possible with conventional analog instruments.

Digital hearing aids offer even more benefits. They can:

  • enhance or suppress certain frequencies and patterns of noise.
  • move sounds to more appropriate ranges.
  • provide multiple listening modes for different conditions or situations.
  • be highly tailored to your unique listening needs.
  • be less likely to receive feedback, including whistling.
  • be smaller than analogue hearing aids
  • track the surroundings continuously to identify the best sound settings.
  • communicate with numerous other devices to stream content.

Directional microphones are often included in digital hearing aids. These can be used to concentrate on the voices and sounds that a person wants to hear, as well as reduce the prominence of other sounds.  Some digital hearing aids have become so sophisticated that they simply detect the environment and turn these microphones on immediately. In addition, the direction of noise can even be detected by some very advanced models.

Evergreen Audiology

Digital sound is an innovation that really pays off in your hearing health. You’ll find the latest digital technology from all the leading brands in the industry. For your hearing needs and lifestyle, we can help you in finding the digital hearing instrument that’s right for you.

For more information about digital hearing aid technology, talk to us! We will help you choose a model that suits your needs and budget. Evergreen Audiology can also help if you’re looking for an upgrade to your existing hearing aids or if you’re thinking about getting some for the first time. Our audiologist will help you identify your own hearing needs and find a solution by working with you.

Tips for Driving with Hearing Aids

A man driving an open-topped car

It’s tough to admit sometimes, but things change as we get older. Some things are more challenging, our reaction time slows down. The bright sunlight may bother our eyes and/or it might be tough to see things at dusk. Our depth perception might change.  As long as you recognize the problems, including that your hearing needs a little boost with hearing aids, driving shouldn’t be a problem. We may be taking medications that could affect our reaction time.

At Evergreen Audiology, we urge you to not ignore your hearing issues and get a hearing evaluation each year. Our state-of-the-art practice gives you care with a personal touch. Here are some things to keep in mind to maintain your safe driving record!

Vision and Hearing Tests are Important

You should be getting your vision as well as your hearing tested regularly because it’s natural to start compensating for issues with vision and hearing but compensating may not be enough to keep you safe driving.  Vision issues, like cataracts, can sneak up on you. So regular tests are important.

Be sure to update your glasses or contact lens prescriptions are regularly. If bright sunlight and glare are an issue, use polarized sunglasses and anti-reflective lenses. If driving at night gives you problems, try to keep your driving to daylight hours. Use a ride-share service or plan outings with friends and have them drive.

Posture, believe it or not, is important. You need an adequate sightline of the road ahead. Sit upright and adjust your seat to give you proper back support. Sitting correctly will help you visualize at least 10 feet in front of you. Corrected vision and hearing are important for safe driving. You want to be concentrating on the road and anything that might become a hazard – not what you are trying to hear or trying to see.

Your Hearing and Driving

Healthy hearing is a big part of safe driving. Turn down your radio or turn it off if you find it too distracting. If conversation takes too much of your attention, keep it to a minimum while you are driving.  If you are using GPS, make sure your destination is programmed in before you start driving and make sure you can clearly hear the directions.

Be aware of your surroundings as you drive and, especially watch for the flashing lights of emergency vehicles if you have difficulty hearing sirens. If you need hearing aids, get them. At Evergreen Audiology we are ready to help with getting you hearing aids that fit your lifestyle and we offer hearing health counseling to be sure you can use them correctly and comfortably. You make sure you correct your vision, why wouldn’t you correct your hearing?

Make sure to maintain your hearing aids because feedback can be a major distraction while driving and we can help you with that.

Watch Your Reaction Time

As we age, our reactions slow down, but don’t overcompensate. Studies show seniors with slower reaction times tend to brake too early and this, too, can cause traffic problems. Pay attention to the distance between you and the car in front of you and intersection coming up. You need to concentrate a little more now because things that used to be second nature take more effort. Train yourself to pay more attention to distances and if heavy traffic makes you nervous, don’t drive during those times.
If stiffness and pain make driving difficult, talk to your doctor. Make sure you drive a car with the correct side mirrors as well as vehicle with power steering and power brakes. Exercise will help with stiffness and your reflexes.

Review Your Medication Warnings

Read the warning inserts in your medications. If they say don’t drive while taking the medication – don’t. Don’t stop taking the medication, talk to your doctor about what you might be able to do to compensate for the issues. If your medication makes you drowsy at certain times of the day, avoid driving during those times.

Get that Hearing Test

If you’ve been putting it off, what better time than now to schedule a hearing test? Give Evergreen Audiology a call today and schedule an evaluation. Hearing treatment brings significant benefits to your life – when you’re out on the town and when you’re behind the wheel!


Adjusting to New Hearing Aids

You’ve taken your hearing test and you’ve selected a new pair of hearing aids. All the hard work is done now and you can now look forward to instantly better hearing right? Well, it’s important to be patient, because it takes time to adjust to new hearing aids.

Hearing aids are not like glasses, and there is an adjustment period to get through before you can really see the benefits. It can take as long as four months for you to get used to the sound of your devices.

Here are four tips to help you get used to your new devices:

1) You will eventually get used to all these new sounds

You must remember that people usually wait about seven years before they seek treatment for their hearing loss. In that time, they have usually gone year without hearing certain environmental sounds in such high fidelity.

As such, when people use hearing aids for the first time, every little sound they had forgotten about is suddenly bought to the forefront. From barking dogs to ticking clocks, the sheer amount of now-perceptible sounds might seem overwhelming.

Rest assured that after a period of prolonged use, these sounds will fade into the background as your brain gets used to their presence again.

2) Keep wearing your devices

When you put your hearing aids on for the first time, do so alone in the home so that you may have time to get accustomed to how much louder the sounds are. Once you have had some time to practice operating them, test them out in a low-risk social setting, perhaps by having a close friend over for coffee. It is a good idea to practice like this before you take them outside or to a place where there are more people around.

It’s also important to wear your hearing aids regularly if you want to decrease the time it takes for your brain to learn how to work with the hearing aid. Those who do this adjust to their hearing aids more quickly. Having said that, try not to wear them all day for the first few weeks. Gradually increase the time you use them in order to give your brain a rest from all the new sounds.

3) Talk us at Evergreen Audiology and other hearing aid users

It is expected that you will need to return to visit us in the weeks following the first wear to ensure that your hearing aids are still fitted properly. This is also a good opportunity to talk to our team about your experiences using the hearing aid. The more information you can give us, the better we can adjust your settings to maximize benefit to you.

You might also find it helpful to talk to other hearing aid users about their experiences when wearing hearing aids for the first time. Their advice will no doubt help you adjust better to your hearing aids, as well as give you a vital dose of perspective that no one else can give.

4) Make a plan and stay positive

Commit yourself to wearing the hearing aids according to a set schedule and stick to it. If you have an idea of what to expect, as well as an organized plan of action, it will help you get through those tricky first few weeks.

Although you should temper your expectations before wearing your hearing aids, try to stay positive while wearing them. It’s a bit of a cliché, but hearing aids really are an investment. They will not deliver instant benefits, but you will slowly begin to rely on them for improving your hearing, to the extent that it will be difficult to leave the house without them.

This is where they really start to improve quality of life not only for you, but for the people around you that you care about. You will be able to reconnect with those around you on a level unavailable to you when you were struggling with hearing loss. It’s important not to lose sight of that goal as you enter this adjustment period. Stick at it. It will be worth it in the end.

Evergreen Audiology

For help in adjusting to your hearing aids, a refitting, or for just an opportunity to talk about your experience, we’re here to help you! Contact Evergreen Audiology to schedule an appointment.

Things to Consider when Selecting Hearing Aids

If you have made the decision to treat your hearing loss with hearing aids, congratulations! You’ve made a decision that will have benefits far down the line. This is an important first step toward better hearing. There are a lot of things to consider and the technological options can sometimes seem endless. To help you get through the process easier, here are a few things to consider when buying hearing aids for the first time.

Decide what you want

As you are researching brands and features, try to think about the lifestyle you want to lead, and choose features that will complement this. Do you have a Rolodex full of friends that you like meeting in cafes, or are you the person who maintains only a few close friendships? Are you somebody who loves to be outdoors or are you more inclined to watch a movie in front of the TV? Deciding what your needs are helps your hearing professional figure out the hearing device which best suits you.

Find a good hearing professional

Make sure you find a hearing professional you can trust. At Evergreen Audiology, we’ve been helping people with their hearing health for over 20 years, so you know you can trust us to give you the best service.

Bring moral support

Your hearing consultations will contain a lot of information, so it’s best to bring a friend to help digest it together. A spouse, family member, or loved one will do nicely. As someone who has likely observed your hearing loss before even you have, they will also have an idea of your specific needs, and can recommend features based on these requirements.

Get your hearing tested

This might seem obvious, but we see that people are increasingly buying hearing aids online. These might not only be poor fitting; they might also not work with your particular level of hearing loss.

By getting a hearing test, you are taking a step towards getting a hearing aid that suits your particular hearing loss. We take several steps to ensure your devices are tuned to your needs. We run a series of tests to determine the exact nature of your hearing loss, and we’ll ask you questions to determine the kind of lifestyle hearing needs you have. This helps us make the best choice for your hearing loss, your lifestyle and your budget.

Go for a “Test Drive”

It’s a great idea to ‘test drive’ hearing aids before you commit to them, so check with your hearing practitioner to see if this is something they provide. Not only will it give you an idea of the features and power of the device, it also helps you get an idea of how the device performs in different settings. If no such test drive is available, you can also ask your hearing health professional for a demonstration of the hearing instrument you are interested in.

Double Check the Fit

Once you have decided on a pair and have gotten them tuned and fitted to your specifications, it’s really important to check the fit. Remember, you are aiming to wear these during pretty much every waking hour, so it’s important that they are comfortable. A good fit also helps the devices sound their best. It’s also normal for hearing aids to be refitted several times in the weeks following the first time you start wearing them, so don’t be afraid to tell your hearing practitioner if something doesn’t feel or sound right.

Know that good hearing takes time.

It usually takes a month for you to get used to your hearing aids and to really get the most out of them, so it’s best to be patient. If are finding it tough to acclimatize to your new devices, our team at Evergreen Audiology is only too happy to help. It can also help to wear your devices as much as possible when you first get them, so that your brain can get better at tuning out all the unnecessary sounds it suddenly has to process.

Evergreen Audiology

At Evergreen Audiology, we pride ourselves in helping you find the best hearing solutions to meet your hearing and lifestyle needs. Why not schedule a consultation with us to see how we can help you with your first pair of hearing aids? Contact us today!