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How Do Hearing Aids Work?

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Hearing aids are incredible devices that can drastically impact the way you hear and interact with the world around you. These small devices are powerful, allowing you to regain control over your hearing and life.

But how does such a tiny technology seemingly defy the laws of nature, producing amplified and clearer sound? This article will discuss how hearing aids work so that you can be a more informed patient and consumer when selecting your next hearing aid.

What is a hearing aid?

Starting with the basics, a hearing aid is a medical device worn in or behind your ear. It increases the volume of sound so that you can better hear others. Improved listening allows you to better communicate and converse with others, improving your overall quality of life.

In addition, a hearing aid can be particularly helpful in noisy environments where you may normally strain to hear. Though useful, only 20 percent of individuals who could benefit from a hearing device utilize one.

So, how do they work? 

Hearing aids have three main parts: a microphone, an amplifier and a speaker.

The device receives external sound via the microphone, similar to how you may talk or sing into a normal microphone. The microphone then translates the sound wave into an electrical signal, sending it to the amplifier.

The amplifier is the final step, increasing the strength and power of that electrical signal. The hearing aid then sends this amplified sound to your ear via the speaker.

There are two types of technologies that hearing aids can utilize: digital and analog. Digital aids translate sound waves into numerical codes, while analog aids translate them into electrical signals. Your audiologist can program both types of hearing aids to fit your specific hearing needs.

Other hearing aid features

There are a few other components of a hearing aid that help to optimize listening.

First, hearing aids integrate multiple listening programs, each one aimed at optimizing sounds in a different environment. Your hearing aid will have different settings to reflect these listening programs.

For example, your hearing aid will adjust itself automatically when there is increased background noise. Likewise, it will also adjust automatically when you move to a quieter environment. Hearing aids also allow you to manually change the program, and some are even equipped with a remote control.

Hearing aids will have different features depending on the type of device. For example, microphone technology may differ among aids.

Some hearing aids have just one microphone that inputs sound from all directions. Other hearing aids may have two microphones that work together simultaneously. One works to input the sound source while the other works to minimize background noise.

How do I know what features are right for me?

Though all hearing aids have the same basic functions and operate similarly, devices will differ in terms of their features. Additionally, certain hearing aids may be better for certain types of hearing loss. Therefore, you should work with an audiologist to select a hearing aid that fits your hearing needs. 

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