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How do Hearing Aids Work?

Stephen Rampur
Hearing aids are extremely useful devices that enable the hearing-impaired to hear clearly. But do you know how these actually work? Let's find out...
Hearing aid can change the life of a person affected by loss of hearing. According to a survey, only 20% of the people who have a hearing problem use this device. So, it is evident that many people are still unaware of the benefits that are offered by hearing aids. Some people do not use them, as they feel embarrassed of what others would say or think.

What are Hearing Aids?

When hearing aids were first introduced to the public, there were not as many varieties like we have today. The earlier ones were similar to small cones, which would converge the received sound at a point inside the ear.
A person wearing these aids was able to hear only if the sound was in direct line with the device. Recent technological advancements have led to the development of sophisticated hearing aids, which provide a solution to this problem.
Hearing aids are tiny, electronic equipment that amplify the sound they receive. They come in many sizes and styles. All types have some basic components, like the microphone to catch the sound around the ear, and an amplifier to amplify it. There is also a receiver that transforms the amplified sound to the inner ear, and a battery to power the device.
Some have internal as well as external controls. Hearing aids are placed on/in the ear, depending on the type. They come in various shapes, like those which cover the back of the ear with a tiny, cordless earphone extending into the ear. Some entirely fit inside the ear and are invisible. These are well-suited for people who feel embarrassed to wear them.

How do Hearing Aids Work?

There are two types which are categorized according to their functions, viz. analog and digital. Analog hearing aids convert the received sound into amplified electrical signals; whereas the digital ones convert the sound to binary number sequences. Digital hearing aids may even have knobs that regulate the volume as needed.
The technology and extra controls used in them may be a reason for them being more expensive. They can even distinguish between noise and speech, and give more amplification to speech, so that it can be heard clearly.
All parts in a hearing aid work in total coordination with each other to amplify sound; if one part fails, others are left otiose. The microphone picks up the sound waves around your ear. The circuit converts the sound waves to electrical or digital signals (depending on the type), that pass through the amplifier.
The circuit also detects any feedback or harsh sound and eliminates it. The receiver then converts the signal back into sound waves, which are then transferred into the ear through the sound bone.
All internal controls are set up by an audiologist, who determines sound frequencies that are to be amplified, the rate and level of amplification, and the loudest sound that the device can process.
There are some external controls that can be adjusted by the user, like the telecoil switch, which can be attached to a telephone or any other assistive listening equipment. There is a volume control that can be used to increase or decrease the loudness of the received sound.
If you have a hearing problem, and are planning to buy a hearing aid, it is recommended you consult an ear specialist and an audiologist before getting one. Siemens is probably thought to be the best in these assistive devices. However, you can even choose between brands like Beltone, Miracle-Ear, Songbird, Widex, and similar other ones.