Introduction to Hearing Aids
Many people question “How does a hearing aid work?” and the national institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) states that only 1 in 5 adults with hearing loss wear hearing aids. Hearing aids are small devices that you can wear behind or in your ear. Hearing aids are electronic and can help a person with hearing loss listen more easily, so they are able to efficiently communicate and join in on everyday activities. Hearing aids help people hear better in both noisy and quiet scenarios. Hearing aids are able to help people with most types of hearing loss including sensorineural (affecting the inner ear), conductive (affecting the middle ear), and mixed. The following information is intended to provide education on how hearing aids work.
How Hearing Aids Work
A hearing aid’s basic purpose is to amplify and balance sound for people with hearing loss. Three main parts of a hearing aid include a microphone, an amplifier, and a speaker (also called a receiver).
Not all hearing aids work the same. It depends on the type of hearing aid that you have. There are two main types of hearing aids:
- Analog Hearing Aids work similarly to a microphone. The microphone picks up sound around the person wearing it and amplifies that sound into the wearer’s ear. This helps the user hear the sound more easily. One drawback is that analog hearing aids amplify all sound equally and are not able to separate noise that is near vs. noise that is in the background.
- Digital Hearing Aids are more like miniature computers. They use more modern technology to help people hear. Digital hearing aids pick up sound through a microphone and sends them through a processor where sound is amplified. The processor converts the sound to electrical signals, then the receiver sends the signals to the user’s ear, where it can be heard clearly. Digital hearing aids are better at amplifying sounds that are important for communication in the environment, while reducing loud and bothersome sounds in the background.
The purpose of this information is to answer the question of “How does a hearing aid work?” Different types of hearing aids work in different ways. While they work in different ways, both analog hearing aids and digital hearing aids ultimately amplify sound to help the user hear more clearly. The difference in technology and the abilities of the two hearing aid types may play a part in which type is best for you.
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