Hearing Aid Technology

Programmable hearing aids are custom programmed using a computer with special software.  The information in an audiogram is entered into the computer, and the hearing aids are then adjusted by computer to give the best possible hearing improvement.  They can be reprogrammed or fine-tuned at any time.

Programmable Digital Technology
   The most advanced level of technology available
   Superior sound quality
   Completely automatic
   Fully digital sound processing between microphone and receiver
   Fully digital amplification
   Minimizes hearing aid whistling
   Minimizes cellular telephone interface
   Superior listening comfort in many environments
   Processes speech and noise differently
   Advanced fitting flexibility

Digitally Programmable Analog Technology
   Currently a moderate level of hearing aid technology
   Good sound quality
   Fully analog signal processing
   Fully analog amplification
   Digitally programmed only
   Good listening comfort in many environments
   Advanced fitting flexibility

How Hearing Aids Work?

A hearing aid amplifies and processes sound in much the same way that a stereo sound system does. However it is much more complex, because all of the technology has to fit into a tiny device that can sit in, or on, the ear.  A hearing aid consists of three major components, all protected by a plastic case which can be fitted on or in the ear.

The first component is a microphone, which changes sound in the air into an electrical signal.

The second component is an amplifier. The amplifier increases the intensity of the electrical signal. Amplifiers also use filters, which have the ability to selectively modify sound, so only the sound needed by the person with the hearing loss is amplified. Some filters can filter out unwanted noise.

The third component is a speaker. The speaker changes the electrical signal which has been amplified and filtered back into an acoustic signal which the wearer hears. The person wearing the aid can adjust the volume for clarity of the sound.

The cost of a hearing aid is relatively high, due to the fact that the components have to be miniaturised. Imagine the complexity of having to make speakers and microphones which are small enough to fit into a custom made case which is small enough to fit on or in the ear.

Hearing aids require special batteries, which are extremely small. These batteries may last from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the type of hearing aid and the amount of time used.

Hearing aids need very little special care. They are built to be durable, but like any other electronic device, they can be broken when dropped. Water can also cause damage. Ear wax can plug the opening for sound in the ear mold. Wax should be washed from the ear regularly. Ear wax guards, which can be put on the hearing aid, is also available.

Assistive listening devices

Assistive listening devices (ALDs) can dramatically improve communication in difficult listening situations.

Thanks to modern hearing instrument technology, people with hearing loss are now able to hear and understand clearly in many everyday situations. Nevertheless, Assistive Listening Devices can provide additional benefits to many hearing impaired individuals. Your personal needs are determined by the characteristics of your hearing loss and your lifestyle. You hearing healthcare professional is the person best qualified to advise you which ALDs could improve the quality of your life.


Generally speaking, you should consider using an ALD if situational barriers to communication prevent you from understanding others. The following three factors have a negative impact on the quality of the signal received by your hearing instruments:

      • Noisy backgrounds, e.g. at public events, in restaurants, while driving
      • Distance from the person speaking, e.g. conferences or guided tours
      • Places with a high level of reverberation, e.g. large halls

Many of the things we enjoy most in life take place in environments where even people with good hearing often have difficulty understanding: social and business occasions, lectures, cars, public transport, sporting events, religious ceremonies, or listening to guided tours.


A microphone is placed close to sound source you wish to hear: e.g. your conversation partner in a car; the speaker at a university lecture, the TV set, etc. The speech signal is transmitted directly to your hearing instruments.


To connect an ALD, your hearing instrument must have an audio input facility. This is a built-in connection, which enables the signal to be transmitted directly into your hearing instrument without being picked up first by its microphone. Audio-input is commonly available only in Behind-the-Ear (BTE) instruments.

The audio shoe is attached to the hearing instrument, where it serves as a bridge between the hearing instrument and the ALD. Most ALDs are connected to the audio shoe by a cable. There are also some, which have a radio connection to the audio-shoe, and require no cable.

Different types of ALDs at a glance


Essentially, wireless communication systems consist of two components: a microphone with a transmitter and a receiver connected to a hearing instrument. The speaker’s voice is conveyed as a radio signal – i.e. without a cable connection – from the transmitter to the receiver. These systems are extremely convenient to use, have a long range and are suitable for indoor and outdoor use. Several types of wireless communication systems have been manufactured, and your hearing aid acoustician can advise you the compatibility with hearing instruments.

   Microphone/transmitter units

Type A: The microphone and transmitter are worn by the person you wish to hear. The microphone is connected to a transmitter via a cable. This unit is particular suitable for lectures, school and guided tours.

Type B: The transmitter and microphone are housed in a single unit. This device can be held by the hearing instrument user who directs it toward the person he/she is listening to. 

   Receivers and hearing instrument connection

Type A: The receiver is worn by the hearing instrument user and is connected to the hearing instrument with a cable. This system, where the speaker wears the transmitter and the hearing instrument user the receiver, is ideal for lectures, seminars, conferences, noisy work environments, etc.

Type B: In this tiny ultra-light system, the receiver is built into the audio shoe, eliminating the cable between receiver and hearing instrument. There are unlimited uses for this system: social and business occasions, noisy working environments, classrooms and lecture halls, churches, guided tours, sporting events, radio and TV broadcasts, private and public transport, at the theatre, concerts….


   Hand-held microphone

The conference microphone is useful for participating in group conversations. It can be positioned on the table and directed towards the person speaking or other specific sound resources.

   External telephone coil

Like the coil built into the hearing instrument itself, the external telephone instrument coil functions as an inductive pick-up system. It provides additional amplification for telephone calls or in public buildings equipped with loop systems (churches, theatres, lecture and concert halls, etc), if the hearing instrument’s built-in coil has insufficient boost.

A telephone coil is a small device designed to pick up inductive signals and is found in many hearing instruments. By moving the switch on the hearing instrument to “T” or, in the case of programmable hearing instruments, pressing the “T” button on the remote control, speech signals can be picked up from hearing instrument compatible telephones or from the special loop systems found in many public buildings.

   Telephone coupler

A telephone coupler boosts the signal and consists of an acoustic microphone with its own volume control, independent of the hearing instrument. Telephone couplers can be used also with radios and televisions, tape recorders and CD players.

   TV/stereo-volume control

The volume control is connected directly to your television or stereo set and your hearing instruments. It enables optimum transmission and adjustment of the volume independently of the TV or stereo system.

Will A Hearing Aid Help You

Having a hearing loss does not mean that you can no longer enjoy your life! But, if you find that certain words sound muffled or the TV volume is louder than other would prefer, or that cupping your hand behind your ear allows you to hear better, it is time to consider wearing a hearing aid.

A successful hearing aid fitting requires a sophisticated pairing of technology, perception and patience. Technology refers to the internal components of a hearing aid. Perception to the patient’s audition and sound preferences. And patience refers to the period of adjustment necessary to perform well with a hearing aid. All these factors are of equal importance to your Acoustician because each of these factors contribute to a satisfied hearing aid customer.


If you can admit that you are having trouble hearing conversations, or understanding your favourite TV program, or continually asking others to repeat what they have said, a hearing aid will certainly help.


It is critical that you understand what hearing aids can accomplish and have realistic objectives. Your hearing aid should:

   Allow you to hear sounds that you may not be able to hear or may not hear clearly, like soft voices, certain consonants, children’s voices, or outdoor sounds. It will also allow you to understand speech more clearly and with less effort, in a variety of situations.
   Allow you to hear more clearly in some noisy situations, like in a restaurant or a crowd. It cannot filter out background noise completely, but advanced technology nearing aids can reduce background noise interference considerably.
   Prevent normally loud sounds from becoming uncomfortable. These sounds that are uncomfortable for people with normal hearing, may be just as uncomfortable for those wearing hearing aids.

Care and Maintenance
of Hearing Instrument


Modern hearing instruments are durable, easy-to use and reliable. Nevertheless, a few simple precautions will ensure that your instruments continue to give you many years of trouble-free service.

   Avoid getting your hearing instruments dirty.  Always make sure your fingers are dry and clean before handling your hearing instruments. The microphone inlet is only a few tenths of a millimeter (1/16 to 1/8 inch) wide and can become blocked easily.

   Avoid sharp knocks and impact.  Insert and remove your hearing instruments over a soft surface (a bed or sofa).

   Protect your hearing instruments from heat.  Never leave your hearing instruments where they may be affected by extreme heat. Protect them from direct sunlight (at home and in a parked car) and do not leave them near radiators.

   Protect your instruments from dampness.  Remove instruments from your ears before showering, bathing or swimming. Do not leave them in the bathroom where they could suffer water damage. Dry any perspiration inside and around the ears regularly. Dampness and condensation can damage the circuitry in your hearing instruments. We recommend that you leave the battery compartments open overnight and use the special drying kit available from your hearing care professional.

   Keep your hearing instruments out of the reach of children and pets.  Dogs are irritated by the feedback (whistling) sound and attracted by the owner’s scent. Often the result is a chewed up hearing instrument. The hearing instrument battery can be dangerous if swallowed. Consult a medical professional immediately if the battery is accidentally ingested.

   Avoid contact with make-up or hair spray.  The fine particles produced by make-up or hair spray can easily block a microphone inlet. Always remove hearing instruments before using such products.

   Clean your instruments carefully.  Clean your instruments using a soft, dry cloth. Alcohol, solvents and cleaning fluids can damage electronic circuitry.

   Ear hygiene.  Always make sure that the ear is clean. If your instrument sounds weak, it may be due to the sound outlet or the cerumen filter being blocked with wax or dirt. You can obtain special cleaning products from your hearing care professional.

   Keep your instruments in a safe place.  When your instruments are not in use, always keep them in the presentation case or in a special drying box. Remove the batteries if the instruments will not be used for some time.

   Always have repairs carried out by a specialist.  Screwdrivers and oil can be fatal for hearing instruments. Merely touching the electronics or micro-mechanics can lead to irreparable damage. See your hearingcare professional for service of your hearing instrument.


   Your hearing care professional will give you specific information on cleaning your hearing instruments and may recommend a special cleaning kit.

   Water and solvent cleaning agents can damage electronic circuitry. Use a soft, dry cloth to clean the instruments whenever they are removed from your ears.

   Remove any accumulated cerumen daily. When using a cerumen removal tool, e.g. a brush, always clean the instrument from below. This will prevent particles of wax or dirt from getting inside the instrument.

   If your instrument sounds weak, it may be the result of the sound outlet or the cerumen filter being blocked with cerumen. Either replace the filter or ask your hearing care professional for advice.

Note: In-the-Ear hearing instruments are particularly susceptible to damage caused by ear wax, moisture or dirt. This is because the electronics are integrated into the shell.


Clean the ear mold daily. Wipe it with a soft, dry cloth and always check the opening of the ear mold to be sure it is not clogged with earwax. A clogged opening will prevent sound from reaching your ear. About once per week you should wash the ear mold.

Consult your hearing care professional if …

   The ear mold causes pain or discomfort
   Earwax cannot be cleared from the ear mold
   The tubing becomes yellow or brittle
   The hearing instrument whistles making it impossible to set the correct volume


The volume drops
   Low battery – replace it.
   The sound outlet is blocked with earwax – clean with a small brush. Change the cerumen filter.
   Blocked microphone inlet – consult your hearing aid acoustician.

The instrument “whistles“ in the ear
   The instrument is not correctly inserted in your ear. Try again.
   The instrument is in the wrong ear – swap it over.
   The fit of the instrument is too loose – consult your acoustician.

The instrument does not work
   There is no battery in it – insert one.
   The battery compartment is not closed – shut it.
   The battery is dirty – clean the battery surface.
   The battery is dead – replace it.

The instrument slips out of your ear
   The ear canal is wet or dirty – wipe the hearing instrument and your ear with a soft, dry cloth.

The instrument hurts your ear
   The instrument is not correctly positioned – remove and re-insert it. If the problem persists, consult your acoustician.

The instrument is difficult to insert
   Place a small drop of non-irritating lubricant on your finger and smear onto the ear canal entrance before inserting your  instrument. Ensure that no lubricant enters the sound outlet or microphone apertures.

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