The hearing aids of today are small, easy to use, and improve the user’s natural quality of life. Of course, this wasn’t always the case. The first hearing devices of the 1600s and 1700s were large and bulky. Shaped like large horns (or “ear trumpets”), they would funnel sound into the ear canal from the wide end to the narrow end, which was placed into the ear.

The Evolution of Hearing Devices and Styles

1800-1900: A Great Improvement

During the late Renaissance and Victorian periods, etiquette was everything, and these large devices were deemed to be socially unacceptable. With the advent of Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone, hearing aids became more available for the general population, and they also became less cumbersome. Bell’s carbon transmission technology enabled the production of smaller, electronic devices. These were worn around the neck, and included a battery. Although similar models of hearing aids were worn up until the 1990s, they continued to get smaller and smaller in size.

1800-1900: A Great Improvement

1900-1990: Miniaturization

The progression of hearing aid technology was truly put in motion by the advent of Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone. Hearing aids became a widely available resource, and since large, bulky hearing devices were deemed a social embarrassment, Bell’s technology enabled the production of smaller, electronic devices.  Battery miniaturization enabled hearing aids to be pocket- or purse-sized.

Present-Day Hearing Aids


Present-Day Hearing Aids

In the 20th century, new digitalized technology provided opportunities for further research about hearing loss, as well as hearing aid design and device options for the wearer. Digital circuitry and programming allowed sound to be amplified and adjusted as needed. Into the 21st century, hearing aids are nearly the size of your fingertip, are often the color of natural skin, and are self-adjusting devices, so that the wearer can focus less on adjustment and more on everyday living.

1900-1990: Miniaturization

Hearing aids may not be right for everyone. For those with situational hearing difficulties – when watching television or during telephone conversations, for example - we offer additional products to meet your unique hearing needs.

Assistive Listening Devices

  • Bluetooth capability - Certain cell phones and other devices can be amplified via Bluetooth technology
  • Amplified phones - These are for people who have trouble hearing telephone conversations. Amplified telephones offer clear sound, so you don’t have to strain to hear what’s going on. Financial assistance is available for qualifying individuals through the Access Iowa program.
  • FM systems - Technology that helps reduce background noise, so that you can focus on the sounds you actually want to hear and not environmental noise.

Hearing Aid Accessories

  • Batteries - We have cards, which contain 8 batteries, for $10 each. We also have 5 cards for $45, offering a 10% savings!
  • Filters - Guard against ear wax build-up with filters, which will keep your hearing aids working effectively.
  • Dryer boxes - Remove moisture and extend the lifespan of your hearing aids with dryer boxes.
  • Eargene - Lotion for relieving itchy, irritated ears.
  • Otoclips - Clothing clips to help prevent loss of BTE hearing aids
  • Super Dry Aid Packs - Protect hearing aids from moisture.

Custom Hearing Protection

  • Swim molds
  • Musician’s ear plugs

For comprehensive audiology services, including balance testing, as well state-of-the-art hearing aids and other technology, visit us at our main office in Mason City, outreach clinics throughout northern Iowa or in Albert Lea, Minnesota.

What Happens Next

At Hearing Associates, you’re part of the team!

After an interview and a series of in-depth hearing tests, our audiologists will sit down with you and discuss your results as well. If we determine that hearing aids are the best solution, we will look at the severity of your hearing loss, your lifestyle, your particular hearing needs and challenges. We'll discuss your options and concerns, and then then recommend the type of hearing aids we believe will be most beneficial for you. We encourage you to ask questions, and go over all the different styles and choices before making your decision.

Once you have chosen your hearing aids, we take any required measurements and then will order them. When your hearing aids arrive, you'll come in to have them fitted and programmed. We perform tests to make sure that they are working properly and to your specifications before you walk out our door.

Maintenance and Follow-up Care

Hearing aids are an investment. In order for them to work most efficiently and last longer, proper care is required. We will teach you how to clean and care for your devices. We will show you to program your hearing aids, as well as how to store them and change the batteries.

We carry hearing aid batteries and additional products that will help you care for your devices, such as dryer boxes and filters to prevent wax build-up.

We also encourage you to bring your hearing aids into our branch in Albert Lea, Minnesota, main office in Mason City, or any of our other offices located in northern Iowa, for quarterly cleanings and maintenance, repairs or if you need help programming them.


There is a period of adaptation as your ears and brain reenter the world of sound. If you have any questions or concerns during this adjustment, please do not hesitate to ask. We want you to get the very most out of your hearing aids and are eager to help you in that process in any way.

You can find us in Mason City, throughout northern Iowa, and in Albert Lea, Minnesota. We look forward to teaming up with you on your journey to better hearing. Schedule your appointment at any of the Hearing Associates, PC practice locations.


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