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What’s the difference between analog and digital hearing aids? Analog hearing aids basically take sounds and make them louder, just as cupping your hand behind your ear amplifies sound. Some analog hearing aids include a programmable microchip, but the functions are relatively basic. Digital hearing aids take in sound waves (in themselves, analog signals, for the tech folks out there), translate them into digital format, process, filter, distort, amplify and ultimately deliver a sound signal into your ear canal that is custom-tailored to your needs. In order to perform all these wonders, digital hearing aids contain a Digital Signal Processor (DSP) chip. To better understand digital versus analog, consider the difference between analog vinyl records and digital CDs. Vinyl records require fairly simple methods for playback, and a simple turntable and needle will do the trick. CDs take a little more hardware, as the digital information has to be processed and reproduced. While there is a greater amount to do, CDs provide clearer, high fidelity sound. Some people prefer the warm crackle of a vinyl record, but that fuzz simply won’t do when it comes to your hearing!
Hearing aid styles Hearing aids vary a great deal in price, size, special features and the way they're placed in your ear. The following are common hearing aid styles, beginning with the smallest, least visible in the ear. Hearing aid designers keep making smaller hearing aids to meet the demand for a hearing aid that is not very noticeable.
Completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aids are the smallest type of hearing aids choices. These hearing aids have good cosmetic appeal and are different from others as they are custom fitted to the inside of your ear canal to amplify sounds in individuals with mild to moderately severe hearing loss.
How hearing aids work Hearing aids use the same basic parts to carry sounds from the environment into your ear and make them louder. Most hearing aids are digital, and all are powered with a hearing aid battery. Small microphones collect sounds from the environment. A computer chip with an amplifier converts the incoming sound into digital code. It analyzes and adjusts the sound based on your hearing loss, listening needs and the level of the sounds around you. The amplified signals are then converted back into sound waves and delivered to your ears through speakers.
ITC (In-The-Canal) Custom hearing aid that fits in the ear canal. Smaller portion shows in outer ear.
Open-fit hearing aid is a variation of the behind-the-ear hearing aid with a thin tube. This style keeps the ear canal very open, allowing for low-frequency sounds to enter the ear naturally and for high-frequency sounds to be amplified through the hearing aid. This makes the style a good choice for people with mild to moderate hearing loss. An open-fit hearing aid: Is less visible Doesn't plug the ear like the small in-the-canal hearing aids do, making your own voice sound better to you May be more difficult to handle and adjust due to small part
According to Action on Hearing Loss around 1 in 6 people have some degree of hearing loss.The majority of people with hearing loss rely on hearing aids to improve their hearing. About 70% of hearing aid wearers have hearing loss in the “mild-to-moderate” range. Many of the remaining 30% have hearing loss that falls into the “severe-to-profound” category.
RIC (Receiver-In-Canal) Small, discreet and quick to fit. Perfect for first-time hearing aid wearers
Additional features Some hearing aid optional features improve your ability to hear in specific situations: Noise reduction. All hearing aids have some amount of noise reduction available. The amount of noise reduction varies. Directional microphones. These are aligned on the hearing aid to provide for improved pick up of sounds coming from in front of you with some reduction of sounds coming from behind or beside you. Some hearing aids are capable of focusing in one direction. Directional microphones can improve your ability to hear when you're in an environment with a lot of background noise. Rechargeable batteries. Some hearing aids have rechargeable batteries. This can make maintenance easier for you by eliminating the need to regularly change the battery. Telecoils. Telecoils make it easier to hear when talking on a telecoil-compatible telephone. The telecoil eliminates the sounds from your environment and only picks up the sounds from the telephone. Telecoils also pick up signals from public induction loop systems that can be found in some churches or theaters, allowing you to hear the speaker, play or movie better. Wireless connectivity. Increasingly, hearing aids can wirelessly interface with certain Bluetooth-compatible devices, such as cellphones, music players and televisions. You may need to use an intermediary device to pick up the phone or other signal and send it to the hearing aid. Remote controls. Some hearing aids come with a remote control, so you can adjust features without touching the hearing aid. Direct audio input. This feature allows you to plug in to audio from a television, a computer or a music device with a cord. Variable programming. Some hearing aids can store several preprogrammed settings for various listening needs and environments. Environmental noise control. Some hearing aids offer noise cancellation, which helps block out background noise. Some also offer wind noise reduction. Synchronization. For an individual with two hearing aids, the aids can be programmed to function together so that adjustments made to a hearing aid on one ear (volume control or program changes) will also be made on the other aid, allowing for simpler control.
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