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Ask The Audiologist

Q.Recently there have been a lot of advertisements on the radio about "digital" hearing aids and "computers in the ear". Is this some new breakthrough? What does it mean?

A.There are a number of true digital signal processing (DSP) hearing aids that are currently available in the market place.

DSP technology allows greater fitting flexibility for the patient. That is, by using a microchip in the hearing aid, the audiologist can "fine-tune" hearing aids to better meet the listening needs of the patient.

For example, DSP hearing aids automatically provide more gain (power) for soft sounds and less gain for loud sounds. This means that inaudible sounds are made "soft," conversational level sounds are "comfortable," and loud sounds are "comfortably loud."

Many of the digital hearing aids employ directional microphone technology. This permits the listener to hear better in background noise because the sounds coming from behind are reduced in intensity. These are only a few of the features that digital hearing aids provide.

There are a number of manufacturers that employ digital technology in there hearing aids. It is in the best interest of the patient to consult with an audiologist to determine which hearing aids are most appropriate given the persons hearing loss and communication needs.

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Dr. Craig Newman

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