A comprehensive guide to hearing aid technology

Did you know that more than 2.2 per cent of the population in Ireland suffer with hearing difficulties? This figure, gathered in the 2016 census, showed an increase of 11,616 people living with hearing loss since 2011, and most of these people are likely to be wearing hearing aids.

You will often be unaware when someone you meet is wearing a hearing aid, because hearing aid technology has become so sophisticated and discreet, but hearing aids are the most common – and usually the most effective – treatment for a hearing loss

Hearing aids have been transforming the lives of people living with hearing impairment for many years, and the Oticon Opn 1 uses the most futuristic technology to offer an incredible quality of sound that is proving very popular with wearers.

Hearing aids have always been revolutionary for those living with hearing loss, but the hearing experiences that can be achieved with modern digital hearing aids are impressive. If you or a loved one are noticing signs of hearing loss, you should seek advice from an audiologist as soon as possible to prevent further deterioration and to find the best possible solution for you.

  1. Oticon Opn TechnologyHow Hearing Aid Technology Has Progressed:

Hearing loss can affect anyone, but is most commonly related to ageing. The hearing solutions that we see represented in art and literature throughout history demonstrate the extent to which this has been problematic for our ancestors. It is fascinating to explore the way in which hearing technology has developed in this time.


In the 1700s, the use of ear trumpets was popular, and these had some success in gathering sounds and directing them into the ear. This amplified the sounds, and would have been effective in some cases, enabling those with mild hearing loss to pick up on more of the sounds around them.


During the 1870s, the first electronic hearing aid was created when Alexander Graham Bell developed amplification technology as he invented the telephone. His carbon microphone and battery were ground-breaking at this time, and Edison’s carbon transmitter, invented in 1886, was also a key component in early hearing aids.


In the 1920s, hearing aid companies were experimenting with carbon microphones and vacuum hearing tubes, but these devices were too large to be considered portable. It was not until the mid-1930s that hearing aids were carried on the body, but these were restrictive due to the large battery packs.


By the early 1950s, the transistor was revolutionising hearing technology, and hearing aids became smaller and more manageable. On the ear styles were developed, worn behind the ear with an earpiece to direct sounds into the ear canal.


Throughout the following decades, hearing technology became smaller and more effective, and in-the-ear devices began to appear in the 1960s. However, the next big break through came in 1995, when the first digital hearing aids were developed. Digital hearing technology, unlike previous analogue technology, allows for constant analysis of the environment and automatic programme selection, and these devices can now offer a good hearing experience rather than simply amplifying the sounds around the wearer.


Traditional hearing technology is designed to focus on one sound source at a time, and achieves this end by reducing other sound signals, which results in a narrowed hearing experience that tends to distance the wearer from his or her environment. This is an entirely different experience to the new hearing technology in Oticon hearing aids, which follows the surrounding soundscape and processes multiple speakers and sounds simultaneously to give a much fuller listening experience.


Hearing aid technology today is more sophisticated than that contained in a smartphone, and the possibilities of bluetooth connectivity and wireless streaming make modern hearing aids a real asset for those living with hearing loss.


  1. Why Invest in Hearing Aid Technology?


Hearing aids can vastly improve your quality of life if you have hearing loss, but the costs often seem very high. Here at Hidden Hearing, we believe that this is an investment you should be fully informed about, and never have cause to regret.


Hearing technology is highly sophisticated and is not simply a way to make sounds louder. If your audiologist has recommended hearing aids for you, you should be able to try different styles and you will notice a significant improvement in your hearing when you find the option that works best for you.


It is important to remember that a hearing aid is an investment in your health and wellbeing. Untreated hearing loss can lead to many complications and problems such as depression and dementia, because these conditions affect the same areas of the brain as hearing loss. The good news is that, in the early stages, these effects can be reversed by wearing hearing aids. For this reason, especially, it is important to seek help from an experienced audiologist and to treat your hearing loss as soon as possible to avoid further deterioration.

The Oticon Opn is designed to cope with a fast pace of life and a soundscape that is complex and varied. Those who use these devices report great experiences, with 96% of users hearing ‘better to much better’, according to Oticon survey results. Users say that they must put in less effort, and experience better recall and better speech understanding in noise, and 92% are satisfied or very satisfied with their experience.

A hearing aid may seem an expensive initial outlay, but many providers offer plans to spread the cost and these usually include your aftercare appointments and servicing as well. This is a very important consideration, since you may have trouble adjusting to wearing a hearing aid at first and having the support of the experts can make a world of difference. Our hearing professionals will be delighted to help you to get used to your hearing device, and we offer regular deep cleaning and follow up appointments as part of our aftercare service.

A hearing aid will usually last for around five years, and the benefits of improved hearing can have a huge impact on your social life and your general health. Consider whether you are prepared to spend money on keeping fit and eating good food and think about whether a good quality hearing aid could benefit you as much as these essential expenses in the long term. Protecting your hearing and your mental health into old age is one of the very best things you can do to reduce your risk of cognitive decline and improve your outlook, so do not underestimate the impact of this.

Buying cheaper hearing aids can mean that you will be paying for outdated technology that does not offer you the best performance or the greatest benefit for your hearing or your health. A price that seems much cheaper than most providers can offer, will almost certainly be too good to be true, and a heavily discounted hearing aid could even be detrimental to your hearing health. We have reliable and effective devices to suit every budget and we would always encourage you to work with us to find the very best, and most affordable, solution.


Different Hearing Aid Styles 


Hearing aids are designed to suit people of all different ages and sizes, and with varying complexities of hearing loss. The following are different styles of hearing aids that may be available to you, and you can discuss these options with your audiologist.

Full Shell: Full shell hearing aids are designed to fit the ear exactly and are designed to be easy to use and control. These can be used with Loop systems in public places, which can be very helpful.

  • In-The-Canal: In-the-canal or ITC hearing aids sit inside the ear canal and usually use directional microphone technology to give a better listening experience. This is a very discreet option, and the Oticon Invisible-in-the-canal device is particularly popular for this reason. It offers a highly sophisticated listening experience without being visible to other people and sits deep inside the ear canal


  • Completely-In-Canal: Completely-in-canal styles of hearing aid are designed to sit right inside the ear canal and most feature a removal handle. User controls are external, and these devices can be controlled via a smartphone app. All of the electronic components are included inside this tiny device, and your hearing aid can be matched to your skin tone for ultra discretion


  • Behind-The-Ear: Behind-the-ear or BTE hearing aids rest behind the ear and process sounds via a tube from the mould or receiver that sits inside the ear canal. These are very different to the large and heavy hearing aids of the past, can be matched to your hair colour or skin tone and are small and lightweight. BTE hearing aids offer a high level of performance that is very effective for even severe and profound hearing loss. Some models are available with connectivity to iPhone and use telecoil technology to create a better listening experience in public places with looping systems installed. The most important thing is to find the style that works best for you, and it is a good idea to try several different styles to find out about the fit and the hearing experience you can achieve with each. Your audiology team will be happy to help you to find the best solution for you, and you can discuss any concerns you may have with them.

Groundbreaking features of new hearing aids. Hearing aids contain incredibly advanced technology and many of these devices can perform functions that make life a lot easier for their wearers. Oticon hearing aids are designed to give a complete hearing experience, and their catchphrase, open up a closed world, demonstrates their commitment to great sound quality for speech without cutting off the wearer from the surrounding environment.

New Digital Hearing Aids include:

  • Binaural processing:  Binaural processing is the way in which a pair of hearing aids can communicate wirelessly, processing sound information that comes in via both ears. The flexibility of the devices to move between programs automatically means that your hearing experience is much more natural


  • Speech enhancement features: Optimising and enhancing speech is a vital function of a hearing device, and modern digital hearing aids have speech enhancement and integrated directional microphone features. These make it possible to identify speech from background noise and to focus on your conversation partner. It becomes manageable to hold conversations at normal volume, even in noisy environments


  • Hearing benefits: Hearing aids are highly advanced devices and can offer lifestyle enhancing features including Bluetooth connectivity and automatic volume control. Bluetooth connectivity can offer many social and leisure benefits, such as streaming music and other audio, and is potential transformative for those who attend meetings and conferences as part of their working life. This feature also enables you to make phone calls or video calls, which can be handled wirelessly by your new hearing aid


  • Data Logging: An electronic memory feature, or data logging, that remembers settings and preferences specific to particular locations can be very helpful and can also enable your audiology team to learn more about your hearing loss and adjust your hearing aid settings for maximum benefit


  • Noise reduction: A sophisticated hearing aid can recognise noises that interfere with your sound perception and fade these out automatically, preventing ambient noise from interrupting your hearing experience. Wind noise has historically been problematic for wearers of more traditional hearing aids, but this can now be suppressed by modern hearing technology


  • Reverberation suppression: The reverberation of sound in large or echoey rooms can cause problems for the wearers of traditional hearing aid devices, often rendering speech unintelligible. New digital hearing aids can suppress this reverberation automatically to reduce these problems and create a much better listening experience


  • Impulse sound reduction: Sudden noises such as slammed doors and car alarms can cause pain and irritation to people with hearing loss, and this can be eliminated by your hearing aid. Modern hearing aids can quickly detect and reduce these sudden sounds, so that they are not a problem for the wearer


  • Feedback cancellation: The high-pitched whistling feedback that is very common in traditional hearing aids is uncomfortable and frustrating for hearing aid wearers. Modern digital hearing aids remove this problem with a feedback cancellation function


  • Frequency shift: In the past, people who wore hearing aids would often miss sounds such as birds singing and the higher voices of women and children. The frequency shift feature in new hearing aids can transpose these sounds back into an audible frequency range and ensure that you do not miss out on hearing them in your daily life


5. Accessories that work with new hearing aids

The world of hearing technology has developed at an exciting rate, and it is possible to streamline your work and your social life by making use of the accessories that can be used with new digital hearing aids. Read on to find out how you could benefit from the accessories on offer.

Options include:

  • ConnectClip. Connectivity is a very useful tool that can bring new benefits to your whole life when you wear a hearing aid. With the Oticon ConnectClip, you can connect to any smartphone hands-free and make hands-free phone calls and video calls for work and for pleasure. You can connect to other smart devices via Bluetooth connections, and ask lecturers or speakers to use your ConnectClip to enable you to hear their voice or presentation clearly and directly. You can also stream music to both ears in stereo and use your ConnectClip as a remote control to ensure that you are getting the very best performance from your hearing aid


  • Rechargeability. The ability to recharge your hearing aid rather than changing disposable batteries frequently is a great option for convenience as well as for the environment. You will be able to plug your device in for charging overnight, without even needing to open the battery compartment, and you’ll gain a full day’s charge without the cost and environmental impact of disposable batteries. The Oticon Opn miniRITE is designed with a hybrid battery option that enables you to use rechargeable or standard batteries, so that you will not have to compromise on your hearing even if you forget to charge your hearing aids


  • Tinnitus relief. Tinnitus is often experienced alongside other forms of hearing loss and hearing aids are the most popular way to treat this condition. Hearing ringing, buzzing or hissing noises in the ears can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety, as well as impacting on sleep and daily life. Oticon Opn hearing aids are now available with Tinnitus SoundSupport, a tinnitus management system that allows you to relieve the condition with sounds such as white noise and soothing sounds


  • Remote controls. Most hearing aids are now so tiny and discreet that they are controlled by remote controls rather than on-device controls. Most can be operated via a smartphone app for ease of use and precision control, and this also means you do not have to carry a separate remote control to change volume or program easily


  • Hearing aids can be life changing, and you are sure to find multiple benefits to wearing yours once you have adjusted to using them. Untreated hearing loss can lead to many other concerns, including depression and dementia, so it is very important to seek help for yourself or a loved one as soon as you notice hearing loss. We have an excellent range of digital hearing aids for you to try, including in-the-ear models that are invisible to others, so simply call us today to book your free hearing test.


You can book a free hearing test with our audiology team, and you can bring a friend or family member to assist you throughout the process. Our hearing aid packages make even the most advanced hearing technology accessible to all budgets, and we include all your aftercare and troubleshooting appointments so that you have the support you need, close at hand.