During the process of choosing and being fit with hearing aids, some people are confused and overwhelmed by some of the vocabulary and technical jargon used in describing technological features.

Let's try to simplify things.

The first buzzword, digital, has certainly become part of our everyday life.

CDs, DVDs, phones and TVs are all digital now.

Digital simply means the information (an audio signal) is changed to a numerical or mathematical code of ones and zeroes.

This can then be processed and changed very quickly and converted back to an audio signal.

Another advantage is that it results in a very clean, clear sound in the hearing aids.

Digital processing also provides for much greater accuracy in matching the gain or amplification to the different levels of hearing loss.

It also allows for reprogramming or resetting of hearing aids when hearing loss changes over time.

Feedback control/management/cancellation enables the hearing aid to be able to reduce or eliminate annoying squealing or whistling that comes from an aid turned up too loud or that may not fit well.

Since the setting in the aid is much more accurate, the hearer is not getting too much gain at any frequency.

On many models there is a more true cancellation triggered when the hearing aid hears itself whistle.

Noise reduction works on multiple levels.

The hearing aids are set at a comfortable range for speech, where softer sounds and voices are now more audible and loud sounds are not excessive.

There is generally some automatic reduction of steady background sounds, especially fans, motors, tire noise and the hum of multiple voices.

With the difficulty of hearing well in a restaurant or group, one of the best features tied in with noise reduction is a directional microphone system.

Each instrument has two microphones. When in quiet, they work fairly equally.

In a noisy environment, the aids are able to reduce, but not eliminate, the sounds behind and focus on voices in front.

Most hearing aid users find this feature to provide significant benefit.

These features are available in different levels of sophistication, ranging from basic performance in the less expensive hearing aids to very advanced in the top of the line products.

An audiologist or hearing care professional should be able to discuss these options to determine which features will best meet the needs of hearing loss, lifestyle and price range.

Veralyn Davee is an audiologist at Hearing Aid Specialists in New Milford.