How do Hearing Aids Work

How do Hearing Aids Work?

Kevin Garnett, B.S. Hearing Aid Technology, Hearing Aids

Kevin Garnett, B.S.

The advances in technology coupled with greater education and awareness of hearing loss allows us to embrace the use of hearing aids.There are currently over 28 million Americans that need them for a better hearing experience according to government statistics.

Being informed is empowering so let’s look at some of the basics of the hearing implements that enrich our auditory experiences! 

The following components are found in all hearing aids.

Microphone – receives sound waves, converts them into signals for the amplifier

Amplifier – increases the strength of the electrical/digital signals and directs them to the speaker 

Speaker or Receiver – turns electrical/digital signals into recognizable sounds for the brain to interpret so that we can “hear” 

Power button – switches the hearing aid off or on.

Battery compartment – contains the batteries for the hearing aid.

The most popular form of hearing aids also known as the Behind the ear or BTE.

The Elbow or Ear hook is a tube that connects the case outside and behind the ear to the Earmold fitted within the ear canal. 

The Earmold can come in two styles depending on the user’s needs. It should be cleaned daily as it contains vents.

The BTE’s are used for minor to acute cases. They can be constantly refitted to keep up with children as they grow!

The In-the-canal or  ITC fits the inner ear with only a small part protruding into the outer ear.

The Completely-in-the-canal or CIC is hardly visible at all.

It might take several fittings to find what works best for you and your hearing health professional is the one to guide and assess your needs.

Fast paced technological advances and a burgeoning market have created many options of ease, efficiency and cutting edge design to satisfy our lifestyles. 

The computer chip allows us to program hearing implements resulting in:

  • Less distortion and feedback
  • Greater clarity of speech in noisy settings
  • Greater directional technology
  • Programmable to meet the specific needs of user

For example, the Digital Signaling Process Algorithms (DSP) microchip currently in the market means the following:

“ (1) current hearing aid algorithms will improve over time as hearing aid DSP chips become more powerful, and (2) algorithms not yet seen in the hearing aid industry will be introduced when hearing aid DSP chips become capable of running them. The limitation with what hearing aids can do resides in the chip technology, not in the knowledge of what can be done with them. That being the case, what DSP algorithm innovations can we expect in the future?” 

It is an exciting prospect based on a study “The Future of Hearing Aid Technology” by Brent Edwards, PhD.

Wireless Capabilities

The advent of wireless technology brought with it a new world of options for the hearing impaired. It created a stronger signal, allowing for smaller, more efficient designs, broader functions to suit a variety of activities and an easier ability to control them via our mobile phones. This has led to increased mobility and independence for users.

Another great result was the increased binaural capabilities which means better communication between the left and right ear via the device.

All of these advancements will help to enrich our hearing experience as well offer more options to the hearing impaired by increasing mobility and their independence

Public spaces, since ratification of the American Disabilities Act (ADA) have incorporated a variety of  systems for the hearing impaired.

From lecture halls, theater, transportation hubs to closed captioning on streaming services a loss of our hearing abilities is not as debilitating as it was in the very recent past.

Communicate your needs

When shopping or researching hearing devices it is always a good idea to make a list of activities that are important in your daily life, from playing an instrument to outdoor sports. These will determine which  types will be suited for you and your lifestyle.

Let your auditory specialist know what you are looking for and a budget that works best for you,

The key is to be proactive and the purpose is to attain and maintain a health hearing experience today and for the future.

We are here if you or a loved one need any further information and are looking forward to your call!