October is Audiology Awareness Month, which makes it a great time to celebrate one of the most important inventions in the history of audiological care: hearing aids.
Brief Hearing Aid History
- The earliest hearing aids appeared in the 17th century They are funnel-shaped devices often referred to as ear trumpets. While not particularly functional or easy to use, they represent an early attempt to treat hearing loss.
- In 1898, the first electric hearing aid was invented by Miller Reese Hutchinson. Inspired by the invention of the telephone, he created what was known as the Akouphone. This was a portable device that used a carbon transmitter to amplify sound.
- In 1920, a Naval engineer named Earl Hanson patented the first vacuum-tube hearing aid called the Vactuphone. The device used a telephone transmitter to convert speech into electrical signals, which were amplified through the receiver.
- The first wearable hearing aid was created in 1938 by the Aurex Corp. It consisted of an amplifier-receiver, which was clipped onto a person’s clothes with a thin wire that connected to an earpiece. They used a battery pack to power the device was attached to the hearing aid user’s clothes as well.
- In 1970, the microprocessor was created. This was a huge step into transforming hearing aids into the miniature and technologically advanced hearing aids we recognize today.
The Benefits of Modern Hearing Aids
Modern hearing aids are small enough to be practically invisible while offering advanced technology and can be worn by people of all ages, including infants. They do far more than just amplify sounds. Hearing aids today have:
- The ability to connect to Bluetooth® and stream media from smartphones and other electronic devices directly into your ears for an optimal listening experience.
- Programs for specific listening environments, like when listening to music or in a busy restaurant like The Burger Stand.
- Apps that let you control your settings and volume discreetly.
- Directional microphone systems that amplify sounds in front of you while minimizing those from other directions.
- The ability to monitor aspects of your health, with some even being able to tell if the user has taken a fall.
Data from 2019 indicated that 7.1% of adults 45 and older used a hearing aid to treat their hearing loss. However, millions who would benefit from using them still don’t. If you are concerned about your hearing, don’t delay. Call Topeka ENT and make an appointment for a hearing test today.