The hearing technology is constantly evolving and undergoing rapid advances, resulting in new products. It is encompassing a wide range of products from traditional hearing aids to hearing assistive technologies and consumer-technology products.
The main and overall goal behind them is to enable the users to hear and communicate better with their surroundings whether in their homes or public places.
This article discusses some of the major and most influential developments and hearing solutions in hearing technology.
Millions of individuals around the globe suffer from hearing loss. Leaving it untreated can cause more damage than originally thought.
All the hearing market nowadays is highly driven by technology, allowing consumer hearing aid companies to integrate many personalized features that were not available before such as:
Online hearing tests developed by audiologists
Tech support and advice
Smartphone app synchronization to specific settings
There are many reasons for why somebody loses their hearing. Seeing an audiologist will help you in knowing whether your hearing loss is likely to be permanent or temporary. If they diagnose you with permanent hearing loss, then they have many options of hearing medical devices to recommend. These won’t restore your hearing, but they will help in alleviating the problems caused by hearing loss. They will help you adapt to your new situation and learn how to live and cope with it.
Some of the hearing medical devices types will discuss in this post, that are as follows
Hearing Medical Devices
Middle ear implants
Bone conduction devices
They are small electronic devices that amplify sound for all those experiencing mild to moderate hearing loss.
There are many designs and types of hearing aids that fit the various types of hearing loss. They vary in sound amplification, size, shape and placement in the ear.
Hearing aids passed through many changes around the years and the recent ones are significantly superior to the ones that were available in the previous years. They became durable medical equipment that people depend on to solve their hearing impairments. Some of the key features that evolved are changes in size, built-in rechargeable batteries in addition to the disposable batteries, improved microphone technology, better protection against wax, moisture and dust, and compatibility with Bluetooth-enabled devices.
An important thing to mention though is that the core design remains the same. A typical hearing aid still contains four basic components:
A power source- a battery
Hearing aids work best for users with sensorineural hearing loss. This is caused by damage to the inner ear or the auditory nerve, which is the nerve that connects the ear to the brain. It could be due to aging, diseases, infections, exposure to loud noises or certain medications with side effects.
Hearing aid types include:
The candidates for this type are those with mild hearing loss. They are a very attractive option because they are small and not visible. They are molded to fit the inside of the ear canal.
This type of hearing aid fits in the ear canal, specifically in the outer ear bowl. This type includes features that are not found in smaller CIC hearing aids, like directional microphones and manual controls for volume.
They are a great option for users with moderate to severe hearing loss. They are referred to as invisible hearing aids. Some fit deeply within the ear canal, while others are put closer to the outer ear. They don’t have external wires or tubes visible. Hardly anyone can notice that you are wearing a hearing aid. They are always designed for a personalized fit in the ear canal.
They are useful for users suffering from more severe hearing loss and children. They are hearing aids behind the ear with a hook over the top of the ear. Their microphones pick up sound and process it digitally to make it clearer and louder. They are discreet but very high performing if you want extra power but in a stylish design. They are the most common and more popular hearing aid style.
Middle Ear Implants
A middle ear implant is a new hearing implant that acts as an alternative to the conventional hearing aids. It works by directly moving the bones of the middle ear or by vibrating the membrane of the cochlea. Either way, it is designed to amplify sounds through the addition of movement into the natural hearing pathway.
It is a small device inserted into the middle ear that transmits sounds to the inner ear via a small microphone worn behind the ear. The sounds are converted into vibrations that are sent to the implant found in the middle ear.
Bone conduction devices
A bone conduction hearing device is an ear medical equipment that is a substitute to the regular hearing aid. When the hearing aid doesn’t give the effective result or when it cannot be worn, that is when this device becomes advantageous. It is made for those with problems in their middle or outer ears. This means when they are not able to transmit sound properly into the inner ear.
It can even be used when there is no hearing in one ear.
It relies on the cochlea functioning properly to send sound to the brain.
It has two parts:
An external part- the processor
A surgically implanted fixture that is placed in the bone behind the ear
There are three different types of bone conduction hearing devices:
– Bone conduction hearing implants, surgically implanted via an abutment through the skin. It is implanted behind the patient’s ear, in the temporal bone. It secures the external audio processor in place.
Bone conduction hearing implants, surgically implanted via a magnet under the skin. The magnet is implanted against the skull behind the ear. It anchors the sound processor to the patient’s scalp.
Bone conduction hearing aids, non-surgical
They are small electronic devices that help users with severe hearing problems. They contain two parts: an internal and external part.
The internal part has an electronic package, a magnet and an electrode array. The external part is considered a speech processor. It is worn behind the ear and connected to the implant via a magnet put on the head.
This implant is available for both children and adults with major hearing loss. In some cases, it is better than the hearing aids because it bypasses the damaged area and sends sound signals immediately to the hearing nerve. This kind of implant is suitable for people who:
Have severe or profound hearing loss
Cannot overcome their hearing loss using hearing aids
Are able to participate in speech therapy once the implant is inserted
Benefits of hearing medical devices
The advanced technology allows the user to make better use of all the aforementioned hearing medical devices. They improve the experience of everyday life for those experiencing hearing loss. They can have better overall health and emotional well-being.
Since the features of hearing aids are automated, this removes the constant need to manually adjust the settings every time.
They help improve the ability to hear speech and communication skills.
They make the user feel more confident when talking to others because they can follow conversations in different environments.
Social life is improved, giving better family relations and personal relationships. Wearing hearing aids can help you engage more with people socially without having to avoid social situations.
Mental and physical stress is lower because they reduce the degrees of distress, depression, anxiety, loneliness and dependency on others.
They reduce tinnitus, which is a very common problem that causes ringing in the ears.
The type of implants discussed earlier depends on the level and type of hearing loss. They are very important because they can be a solution to hearing loss when digital hearing aids cannot be.
Their benefits can be tested using auditory and linguistic tests. However, patients or parents usually report impressive improvements in confidence, behavior and quality of life.
They help you understand speech without the use of lip reading and visual cues.
You will be able to pick up different types of sounds from soft to medium and loud ones. You can recognize everyday environmental sounds.
You can better control your own voice, making it easier for others to understand you.
You can hear television programs and telephone conversations more easily.
They reduce symptoms of tinnitus, such as ringing and buzzing in the implanted ear
No matter what age you are, hearing loss needs to be treated right away. If not, it will drastically influence your quality of life and increase your risk of future health issues.