Hearing Aid’s are a common tool in modern society for the use of basic hearing enhancement. Hearing loss or damage as a whole are much more prevalent than one would originally imagine. Many don’t even realize that they have any form of hearing damage, especially if they’ve worked in loud environments a large majority of their lives. Even once diagnosed, very few follow through with their doctors recommendations of limiting themselves around excessively loud machinery/environments as well as to wear the proper hearing protection. By this point the damage has already been done, and depending on the severity it may be permanent. Due to your hearing being possibly so bad, you may end up having to constantly wear a hearing aid to interact effectively with your environment. The following will go briefly into the basics of how a hearing aid works as well as the various types that are currently on the market
The Internal Breakdown
There are only a few different parts inside of a hearing aid that can bring a whole new joy back into your life simply because you’re able to bring back subtle confidence. The most obvious piece is the microphone. This is a tiny piece attached to the hearing aid that picks up sounds in your immediate environment and in turn sends it directly to the processor to convert it into electrical signals. Modern hearing aid microphones are now able to differentiate background noise from actual speech, which is a godsend from the microphones utilized even a decade ago. This allows the user to better understand what their audience is saying instead of being jumbled with unwarranted noise in the environment.
The second stage to where the sound makes its way into the hearing aid is known as the amplifier or the processor. This can be thought of as the CPU or “brain” of the hearing aid. It is through this piece of equipment that the electrical input from the outside environment and is converted into digitized signals that can be configured specifically to the end user. What this means is depending on the preset settings that the user had entered, the sounds will be boosted and tuned to the severity of the hearing loss/damage. This process is also where any/all initial feedback from the immediate environment would be reduced or removed. With modern hearing aids, most have the ability to also minimize any kickbacks from tinnitus as well. This is a known and irreparable issue for those with hearing damage. It is essentially a high pitch beep, click or hum that can come on randomly or consistently depending on how bad it is. After all this processing is finalized, its sent on over to the third and final phase.
The receiver is where the now digitized sound is released into language you can understand and hear. Most receivers are positioned into the users inner part of their ear. Depending on the style of hearing aid, which we’ll go into later, the aid itself can be placed directly into the ear canal or can at least have a tube placed in there to allow effective intake of the sound from the receiver. Even though all of these steps seems as though they make take a while, with modern and updated technology they are all happening in fractions of a second.
Styles for Miles
There’s essentially five different hearing aids that are currently on the market. They all offer something different and are built for specific needs. Remember, what you think you want and what you actually need are two completely different things. This is why going to a certified audiologist is so important in order for you to not only get a properly configured processor but also also get a hearing aid that is fitted for you, your lifestyle and the severity of your hearing loss. The first is In-the-Canal or Completely-in-the-Canal. As their names state, this is where the aids actually goes. These are the most minimalist designs as well as have the smallest footprint, therefore they are the most inconspicuous and virtually disappear in your ear. Depending on your dexterity they may be difficult to get in or out as well as they may not have as many extra features as their bigger “brothers.” In-the-Ear fills the bigger venue next. Again, as the name states these typically fill the outer part of your ear therefore allowing them to be placed in and removed effortlessly. Behind-the ear and Behind-the-ear open fitting fill the bigger roles. These are virtually the same except for one minor difference. They both have a hardened case that sits behind your ear. These cases hold all your parts we talked about previously. The difference between the two is that the open fitting model has a small small tube with a tip that runs into the ear canal. This therefore makes it more difficult to see. Receiver-in-the-Canal aids rounds up the various models currently available. They are extremely similar to the Behind-the-Ear models, but instead of a tube going directly into the ear canal there is a wire. This wire connects directly to the speaker that would already be placed in the ear canal. The idea is to reduce overall visibility of the hearing aid.
What Works for You
When it’s all said and done, what works for you may not work for your friend. Seek out professionals in this arena that can point you in a good direction. Don’t allow your ego or emotion get in the way of enjoying your life to the fullest by being more confident in your day to day interaction with others.