Do hearing aids adjust automatically?

May 15, 2011 by Elaine Gagnon

Do hearing aids adjust automatically?

This is one of the first questions new hearing aid users ask. Advertisements often give the impression that everything adjusts itself, like magic!

It’s important to understand that the latest technology offers “adaptive” features for various listening environments. The primary adaptive feature is gain variation (correction in decibels) based on the different levels of incoming sound captured by the microphones. Amplification then varies based on the sound source, so it is more realistic and natural. As such, a soft sound is perceived as soft, and a loud sound will not exceed maximum settings. So gain correction is variable based on soft, medium, loud or very loud sound.

However, adaptive features in hearing aids far exceed amplification. It is not just gain that varies: all the acoustic parameters contained in the digital circuit adapt to the ambient sound source (example: noise reduction based on the level of ambient noise).

Digital circuits present a complexity of additional adjustment features that vary by manufacturer and by type of hearing aid circuit. Circuits can use economy, entry level, mid level, advanced or premium technology.

Adjustment features may include feedback cancellation, noise management, variable microphone features, low frequency lowering, wireless connectivity, speech management in noise and calm situations, binaural coordination, binaural synchronization and processing and multiple listening programs (variable and/or automatic).

The benefits of adaptive technology allow for greater comfort in changing hearing situations as well as ease of use. However, some users prefer manual multi-memory features accessible via push button or remote control. These features give them greater control over the flexibility and precision of their hearing aids. Manual control is sometimes required to optimize hearing comfort in certain listening and communication situations. So, the use of manual control buttons or of a remote control are an added plus.

What’s most important is to properly understand the possibilities and limitations of any hearing aids you choose, and to take into account your listening and communication needs.

Don’t hesitate to consult your audioprosthetist who practices in one of Lobe Santé auditive et communication’s multidisciplinary clinics for further information about the different types of hearing aid circuits.