Otolaryngology (ENT)

Digital Hearing Aids

Carilion Clinic's audiologists recommend digital hearing aids for patients needing hearing assistance. The most advanced technology available, digital hearing aids use the processing power of a microchip that divides incoming sound into distinct bands that are amplified individually.

This high-tech process converts sound into bits of data, allowing the hearing aid to be custom programmed to best fit the individual needs of the user. The microchip continually analyzes incoming sounds and automatically adjusts the volume. The resulting sound quality is clearer and often compared to the clarity of a compact disc.

Conventional hearing aid users often complained of abnormal "loudness growth." That is because as we speak, our voices have different levels of energy. For instance, vowel sounds are very strong, while consonants have little or no energy. The old technology amplified all of the sounds at the same level, making vowels the dominant sound. But it is the consonants at the end of words that give meaning to our language, and those sounds were often lost-especially for those with high-frequency hearing loss.

But the new digital hearing aids are much better able to control loudness growth. They also reduce acoustic feedback, improve speech audibility without increasing loudness, and eliminate the need for a volume control.

It is important to remember that while this new technology is exceptional, it is not perfect. The brain still needs to adjust to the amplified sound, and so a monitored trial period is important to ensure you are receiving the best hearing assistance possible.

Digital hearing aids are available in many styles, sizes and skin-tone colors. Contact one of Carilion Clinic's audiologists at 540-343-4423 to learn more about digital hearing aid technology.