Emily Martinson, Au.D., Ph.D.
I’ve recently had a lot of questions from patients about digital hearing aids. Many hearing aids are advertised as digital technology, and this can be appealing to patients. But what does “digital” actually mean? When used to describe a camera, digital means that the camera uses a computer chip to save the picture, as opposed to film. Similarly, with hearing aids, digital simply means that a computer is used to program the computer chip in the hearing aids.
Back in the Stone Age before digital hearing aids were developed, hearing aids were considered analog, which means programmed without a computer. A little screwdriver was used to adjust the hearing aid output. Interestingly, digital hearing aids have been around so long that I was not even taught how to use an analog hearing aid in school, and have never even seen one in person! When pursuing hearing aids, it is important to remember that all modern hearing aid technology is digital, and hearing aids are programmed with computers.
If you are interested, your hearing care provider may even let you follow along on the computer as he or she does your programming!