How do hearing aids work?
I always used to think that hearing aids were some kind of sorcery that magically made you able to hear again if you were deaf.
Unfortunately this isn’t the case. But a hearing aid does assist in a wide range of cases of deafness, from only partially and very mild, to severe cases.
Hearing aids work essentially by picking up sound and transferring it into your ear whilst amplifying it to help you to hear better.
What is a hearing aid made of?
Hearing aids are comprised of five essential parts.
- The microphone
- An amplifier
- A speaker
- Power supply
- The ear unit which helps to keep the hearing aid in place
The microphone catches the sound in the room. Traditional hearing aids used to pick up all sound in a room which could be quite confusing and not that effective in helping you to pick out the key sounds.
Modern hearing aids and especially digital hearing aids help to pick out only the key sounds and drown out the background noise.
The microphone then transfers the sound that is picked up into an electric signal. This electrical signal is sent to the amplifier which makes the sound louder.
Once the amplifier has made the sound louder, the sound signals are sent to the receiver which turns the signals back into sound. The receiver has a speaker which moves the converted and increased volume of sound into your inner ear to enable you to hear sound clearer.
Power for hearing aids
Batteries are needed to power all the working parts of a hearing aid. They come in various shapes and sizes, some are much smaller than others. The batteries will need to be recharged or changed routinely in order to keep the hearing aid working well.
Digital hearing technology
Digital hearing aids are the norm now and are much more advanced than hearing aids of the past.
The processing of the sound to signals and has enabled manufacturers and scientists to develop more effective ways of picking up relevant sounds as opposed to background noise.
The result is that people using hearing aids can have a much better experience when out in a busy public place. It means that you can decipher which sound is coming from which direction and digital hearing aids are also able to separate human speed from other background noise so that people who use them do not have to strain so much to follow a conversation.
Digital hearing aids also have a lot less feedback that old fashioned ones. Sometimes ‘feedback’ used to be heard from hearing aids, which was like a loud screeching sound. The amount and frequency of feedback you hear from a hearing aid has reduced significantly.
What style of hearing aid is best for me?
At first glance, it appears to be a very confusing choice – which hearing aid is best.
But it doesn’t need to be a daunting task trying to choose which type to go for.
Here are the three different types of hearing aid you will come across and an explanation of how they are worn – this should help you to figure which one you would feel most comfortable with.
Canal Aids – these types of hearing aid fit into the ear canal and can be custom made to fit neatly and completely inside the ear canal, for maximum discretion. Canal aids are more suited from mild to moderately severe hearing impairment.
In the ear (ITE) – In the ear hearing aids fit inside the outer ear. They are not as discreet are full canal aids and some of the hearing aid is visible. However, this type of hearing aid is usually cheaper and easier to get access to. In the ear hearing aids are also a little more successful in helping with hearing loss and are best suited for mild to severe hearing impairment.
Behind the ear (BTE) – This is probably the most common hearing aid you will see when out and about. A behind the ear hearing aid literally sits behind the ear. It is very easy to attach and possibly the most comfortable, as you do not feel like you are trying to keep something in your ear constantly.
Hearing Aids are not a confusing as I once thought.
A hearing aid is actually a very simple piece of equipment. Obviously there has been years and years of research that has gone into making each one, this is part of the reason why they cane quite expensive.
There are no painful aspects to wearing a hearing aid either, which is something I was worried about. You just simply put it in your ear and you’re good to go.
Much to my surprise, some of the modern hearing aids are actually very discreet too. They are barely noticeable, especially if you have long hair that sits around your ears!