Hearing Aids

What Does Digital Mean?

Many times patients come to my office and ask what those digital hearing aids mean.


To answer this we have to look back and understand what hearing aids use to be. Hearing aids generally have three classical definitions for the circuitry inside: analog, programmable, and digital.

Analog hearing aids are types of circuitry which are set by the manufacturer and give little adjustment for the audiologist to control. Analog hearing aids were used for many decades until around 2000–2008 when the manufacturers stopped requesting and making parts for these devices. Because of the lack of parts available for these devices, they are essentially unrepairable and need to be replaced.

Programmable hearing aids were the beginning of the revolution to allow the audiologist to change the settings of the aid to better suit his/her patient’s lifestyle more individually. These were primarily used in the 1990s and are now virtually unavailable for any repair because these parts are also not made anymore.

Digital devices began a few times in the 1970–1980s but began in earnest in the late 1990s. Now all devices are digital.  But do not be fooled by sales people telling you that all digital hearing aids are the same, because they are not. Digital devices could have as few as 10 individually adjustments to around 100 separate adjustments that only your AudigyCertified™ audiologist can effectively handle. If, as one of my favorite patients asked me, the birds on the golf course are too loud for you, it can be adjusted effectively and easily. Many patients have not realized that their devices can be modified to accommodate their specific needs according to their hearing loss and listening lifestyle.

“So, can digital hearing aids take away all the sounds I do not want to hear?” This is a common question I hear, but the answer is yes and no. We all hear sounds we do not wish to hear, such as a yelling child in a restaurant, but we all still have to deal with this problem.  What can be fixed is the comfort of that noise to make it not exceed your ability to tolerate that sound (or hurt your ear), unless everyone around you is holding their ears as well.

Every year manufacturers are creating new devices to accommodate the noises our patients encounter, and they’re putting them in the rearview mirror of hearing history. Keep asking an AudigyCertified™ audiologist what new technology might be available for you or your loved one.

Hearing Aids

Hearing Care, the Internet, and Big-Box Retailers

A full decade into the 21st century, it would be rare to find an American who has not been to a modern shopping mall or used the Internet. In fact, many of us visit  big-box, anchored shopping malls at least occasionally, and the number of Americans who regularly use the Internet far exceeds the number who do not. Even among senior citizens — the final demographic to embrace this technology — the gap between Internet users and non-users continues to narrow.

Without doubt, the Internet is a fabulous tool, providing us with a wealth of easily obtainable information in mere seconds.  And the amount of relatively low-priced goods and services that “Big Box” and chain retailers supply can certainly help many families stretch their monthly budget.

But are these two venues the be-all and end-all for every consumer scenario?

The short answer is absolutely not, especially when it comes to professional hearing care technology and follow-up service. The Internet outlets, as well as big-box and retail chain stores, simply cannot provide the level of patient care and service that a full-service, AudigyCertified™ hearing care practice must provide to its patients.

These outlets may tout low prices, but remember that price is only an issue in the absence of value. And when it comes to hearing care services and technology, value is clearly lacking from these types of retailers.

Compare apples with apples

You’ve heard that old saying countless times before, and there is a good reason for its longevity. High-volume consumer retailers and Internet companies are famous for blowout prices on a host of products, many of which are either closeouts on outdated technology or are subsidized by the manufacturer. Then, they make those skinny margins work for them by cutting corners on labor, which means poor service for you.

This might be fine for some kinds of goods, such as flashlight batteries, printer paper, bulk grocery items, and various sundries.

But because hearing difficulties are so unique to each and every individual, a far different approach is absolutely mandatory for a successful solution. Achieving that solution should be a process built upon a relationship of trust and respect between the patient and a highly trained, competent, and ethical professional whose services and products provide long-term value.

For example, as a private care doctor of audiology and member of Audigy Group, the nation’s largest member-owned association of hearing care professionals, my practice is AudigyCertified™ in order to guarantee my patients that they will receive nothing less than the most experienced, professional care available in the U.S.

All my patients receive the following:

● A 100% service satisfaction guarantee in writing

● A complimentary 75-day trial period on all new AGX® hearing aid technology purchases

● A 3-year warranty

● 3-year loss and damage insurance

● Free batteries for life

● A complimentary monthly clean & check of technology with fresh batteries installed

● A free annual hearing screening

As a smart consumer, you really do need to make sure you are comparing apples with apples, and one good way is through the Internet, which, as noted above, shines in providing information. Check websites.Do research. Verify credentials as well as state and federal consumer protection laws. A good website should educate you.

In closing, I founded North State Audiological Services with the goal of offering complete hearing health care ranging from diagnostic testing to treatment for tinnitus, with hearing technology sales and fittings based on patient need and lifestyle rather than manufacturer incentives. For my staff and myself, our jobs are not about selling something. Instead, it is all about taking care of our patients and helping them hear better.