Missing out on certain sounds is like missing out on a part of life. Some people have only a partial hearing loss but are sometimes unable to understand conversations. Individuals with hearing loss can enhance the quality of their life with a digital hearing aid.

Years ago, hearing aids relied on analog technology that simply amplified sounds. Although adjustments were available for bass and treble tones, the earlier hearing aids tended to pick up excessive background noise. Digital technology has greatly improved the quality of hearing aids by minimizing the level of extraneous sound.

Hearing testing

Before you are fitted with hearing aids, you will need to take a hearing test to determine the nature of your hearing loss. You might only have a loss of certain sound frequencies, such as those produced in conversational speech. The hearing test is to measure which frequencies you can hear, as well as how much volume is needed for you to hear those frequencies.

Soundwave frequencies

Sound waves are measured in the number of wave cycles per second. Lower frequencies have longer waves, resulting in fewer waves per second. In contrast, higher frequencies have shorter wavelengths. Humans generally have the ability to hears sounds in a range between 20 to 20,000 cycles per second (Hz).

Some sound frequency ranges are more meaningful than others. Sound frequencies of less than 5,000 Hz are important for understanding human speech. People are generally more sensitive to the frequency range of speech, requiring a less intense transmission of sound. To hear higher frequencies, however, a stronger sound might be needed.

Decibel ratings

During a hearing test, you will likely listen to one frequency at a time. Each test frequency will be inaudible at first. The volume of the sound will be slowly increased until you are able to detect it. The level at which you detect each frequency is assigned a decibel level for purposes of setting your hearing aid.

Differing decibel levels are also produced by various routine activities. A conversation in a quiet home, for example, measures about 50 decibels. If you have a hearing loss, you may not be able to clearly hear all of a conversation carried on in a normal speaking voice.

Your digital hearing aid will be adjusted to mirror your own hearing pattern. The digital technology is also capable of automatically adjusting the volume.

Your hearing loss may require only a single hearing aid for one ear. If your hearing loss is in both ears, two hearing aids can help naturally locate the directions from which sounds are coming. For more information, contact a professional such as Mark Montgomery MD FACS.