A Brief History of Hearing Aids

A Brief History of Hearing Aids

Today, hearing aid users have plenty of options when it comes to selecting a hearing aid. People with hearing loss now have a wide variety of hearing aid styles and technologies to choose from, including standard behind-the-ear models, nearly invisible in-the-canal hearing aid devices, and more. Unfortunately, this was not always the case. People with hearing impairments have faced a long struggle to win public respect and gain access to affordable and quality hearing aid products.

A Hearing Aid Timeline

Check out the transitions that hearing aid devices have gone through over the years:

Pre-19th century: Before the 1890’s, acoustic hearing aid devices were made of wood, metal or other such substances. The earliest known hearing aid was an ear trumpet created in 1624. At this time commercially produced hearing aids were not available, and people who needed them had to design and build their own. These hearing aid devices were widely used by people who were not necessarily hard of hearing, but needed to listen closely to subtle sounds for their jobs.

19th century: The first mass produced hearing trumpets were made. These were made from a variety of materials, from cheap tin and wood to finely decorated metals. Unfortunately, they were not very effective in boosting sound as much as people needed.

20th century: The first electric hearing aids were introduced in the early 1900’s. These were very inconvenient contraptions that required people to carry a large box – often the size of a suitcase – connected to a receiver they held to their ears. Then in the 1920’s – 1950’s, portable hearing aid devices had improved due to vacuum tubes and transistor, making subsequent models highly useable and discrete. These involved small transistors, similar to radios, which users wore around their necks. These were connected to microphones similar to modern behind-the-ear models. Soon after that, around the 1960’s – 1980’s, further developments were made allowing hearing aids to be fitted inside the ear. Then in the 1980’s – 1990’s, computer technology introduces programmable hearing aids to the world, which was a significant improvement to hearing aids.

21st century: In recent years, numerous hearing aid models have been developed to meet the needs and wants of hearing aid users. Depending on medical and lifestyle needs, you can choose from surgical procedures, nearly invisible hearing aids, or even disposable hearing aids. With advance technology and so many great features, the hearing aids that are available today have definitely come a long way.

Visit your local audiologist and find out what hearing aid product is best for you. Need help with your hearing loss problems? Conveniently located in San Diego, North County Audiology provides hearing care services as well as offering a variety of hearing aid products.  Contact us today to make an appointment.

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Dr. Podlenski

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