How do hearing aids work?

Hearing aids are not necessarily the best treatment for all types of hearing loss. However, they are the best option for most types of hearing loss. So whether your hearing loss is due to genetic factors, age, or noise pollution. Treatment with a hearing aid is usually the best and only option. But how exactly do hearing aids work?

Contrary to many people's belief, hearing aids do not just amplify sound. Instead, they boost specific areas that you need without amplifying those that you don’t. Because of the cumulative effect of repeated exposure to loud noises, the older we are, the less we can hear. A young man with healthy hearing can hear sounds down to 20Hz, which is a shallow frequency. On the upper side, he can listen up to 20000 Hz, which is a very high pitch. While a ‘normal’ potential hearing range for loudness is from 0 to 180 decibels, sound volume over 85 decibels is damaging, so do not go there. The above frequencies are the first to go as we become older. So, by the time we reach middle age, we should hear up to 14,000Hz. As we get older, we suffer age-related hearing loss (also known as presbycusis). Our hearing can deteriorate because of external factors, such as the environment and pre-existing medical disorders. Because hearing conditions are different, individuals are tested to identify the magnitude of their needs. Hearing aids are tailored to the particular degree and pattern of hearing loss found in the test findings once hearing testing is complete.

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How a hearing aid is made

A hearing aid has three major parts; a microphone, amplifier, and speaker. While the work of a microphone is to pick up sounds and turn them into an electric signal, the amplifier strengthens these signals and filters them through the device. The speaker on the other side will pick these amplified signals and send them to the ear. Hearing aids have batteries that act as the power source for the gadget - a small, portable source of electricity, often called a zinc-air cell. Although every cell battery is used in someone’s hearing gadget, the needs of the hearing impaired guide the design and testing of zinc-air cells.

A telecoil is a small copper wire inside the hearing aid body. The telecoil acts as a wireless receiver connecting you to assisted listening systems (ALS). Telecoil’s primary job is to minimize the background noise so that you can hear clearly in a public setting like airports, churches, theatres, and any other public locations with induction loop systems.

Setting Switches - There are little buttons on the hearing aid body that allow you to select between hearing environments and volume settings. An audiologist or hearing care specialist may have pre-programmed some.

Directional microphones - Regarding the hearing aid position, pick up sounds from a given direction and help to remove background noise. It enables the wearer to concentrate on sounds in front of them, making it ideal for talks in busy restaurants or social gatherings.

Omnidirectional microphones - pick up voices from the wearer’s front, back, and sides. In calm conditions, this sort of microphone is preferable since it amplifies sounds evenly from all directions.

Adaptive directional microphones - are the most advanced hearing aids on the market, and they automatically adjust to different noise levels and sound settings. This microphone picks up noises from one direction but automatically switches focus based on voice sounds and speech signals, allowing the wearer to travel seamlessly between varied sound settings.

Types of Hearing Aids

There are two electronic types of hearing aids, digital and analog. Each of these types works differently; an Analog hearing aid makes continuous sound waves louder by converting sound waves to electric signals. Digital hearing gadgets, on the other hand, use innovative technology to convert sound waves to numerical codes that have information such as; wave pitch, frequency, and loudness.

Digital Hearing Aids

Digital hearing aids work similarly to sophisticated computers. They adapt to your specific needs, preferences, and hearing loss. Individual sound signals do more than make things louder; they also create natural-sounding audio to assist the user in recognizing distinct noises. Digital hearing aids are tailored to your unique hearing condition with frequency channels and hearing programs that prevent feedback whistling, reduce disruptive sound waves, and suppress background noise. This hearing aid uses the most up-to-date digital technology to improve sound quality and speech understanding, and it can connect to your smart device via Bluetooth.

Analog Hearing Aids

Analog hearing aids are no longer as popular, but they are still a less expensive alternative for mild-to-moderate hearing problems. Analog gadgets do not have technology that automatically adapts to diverse conditions, and these hearing aids only have essential components. However, some can be programmed. The amplification of these hearing aids continuously enhances the sound waves, resulting in an artificial sound that most wearers adjust to quite fast.

Which hearing aid will work best for you?

The type and severity of your hearing condition will determine which hearing device is appropriate for you. Your physician can recommend two hearing aids if you have hearing problems in both ears since both aids produce a more natural signal to the brain. Hearing with both ears will also assist you in understanding words and finding the source of the sound. Your audiologist should help you choose the right hearing aid that best suits your condition and lifestyle. One of the considerations is price because hearing aids range from hundreds to a couple of thousand. However, do not use price to determine quality or what is best for you.

A hearing aid will not restore your hearing. However, it can help you become more aware of sounds and their sources with practice. You’ll want to wear your hearing aid daily, so choose one that’s comfortable and simple to use. Also, consider parts and features and services covered by the warranty. Estimated maintenance and repair costs of the gadget, options and upgrade opportunities, and the hearing aid company’s reputation for quality and customer service.