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How Do Hearing Aids Work?

If you have any hearing loss, you might be a good candidate for hearing aids. They can help you to hear the sounds around you in different environments by amplifying sound. While hearing aids can’t repair or restore your hearing, they do help you to hear more and can greatly improve your quality of life. But how do hearing aids work, are they right for you and how can you find the right hearing aids to meet your needs?

This guide will explain some of the basics of how hearing aids work, their different components and how they can help people experiencing hearing loss.

What is a hearing aid?

A hearing aid is a small device that is designed to amplify sound, which is worn in or behind the ear. It makes sounds louder so that the wearer can hear better in different environments and is better able to understand speech and other sounds. Some people might wear one hearing aid, but many people wear two hearing aids, which can be programmed to work together. A hearing aid consists of three main parts: a microphone, an amplifier and a speaker. The microphone picks up sound and converts it into electrical signals, which are then amplified and sent through the speaker.

How do hearing aids help people with hearing loss?

Conventional hearing aids are most useful for people who have sensorineural hearing loss. In this type of hearing loss, the small sensory cells in the inner ear have been damaged, which can occur as a result of aging, injury, disease and some medicines. Hearing aids help people to hear by amplifying sound vibrations and making them easier for the hair cells to detect. If there is a more severe level of hearing loss, the person will require their hearing aids to provide more amplification of sound.

Hearing aids can help to improve quality of life for people with mild to severe hearing loss. However, there are limits to what they can do. They might not be suitable for everyone, or they might only be able to help to a certain extent. Hearing aids help people with hearing loss, but they won’t make things sound exactly like they would with perfect hearing.

What types of hearing aids are there?

Hearing aids are available in a variety of different styles. Firstly, there are two types of hearing aids using different types of electronics. Analog hearing aids and digital hearing aids use different technology to amplify sound. Both can be programmed by an audiologist or hearing instrument specialist to match the needs of the wearer, but digital hearing aids offer more flexibility for adjustment.

Hearing aids also come in various styles that are worn in different ways. Some are worn with the majority of the hearing aid behind the ear or sitting just inside the ear, while other types sit further inside the ear canal. Generally, smaller types of hearing aids have less space for lots of features and technology, but the tech is still evolving. Smaller styles might be unsuitable for people with more severe hearing loss.

Some types of hearing aid include:

  • Behind the ear (BTE): The main part of the hearing aid is worn behind the ear and is connected to a plastic earmold that fits inside the ear
  • Receiver in canal (RIC), also called receiver in the ear (RITE) and mini RITE: This type of hearing aid also has a part that sits behind the ear, which holds the microphone, amplifier and processor. However, the receiver/speaker sits inside the ear and is connected by a thin wire. This can help to improve sound and reduce feedback.
  • In the ear (ITE): These hearing aids sit inside the ear, without a part behind the ear. They might look like the earmold of a BTE hearing aid, but everything is contained within one casing.
  • In the canal (ITC): There are several types of hearing aids that sit in the canal. ITC hearing aids are most visible, made to fit the size and shape of the ear canal.
  • Completely in canal (CIC): CIC hearing aids are almost hidden in the canal
  • Invisible in canal (IIC): IIC hearing aids are the smallest type and are completely hidden, worn further into the ear canal

Hearing aids are fitted and adjusted by an audiologist or hearing instrument specialist. They will use the results of your hearing test and discuss your lifestyle with you to help you choose the right hearing aids and adjust them to your needs.

Discover more about our hearing professionals today by calling us at 1-888-553-7520.