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How do hearing aids work

How do Hearing Aids Work?

Hearing aids pick up the sound that is entering the ear, process it to match the hearing loss, then release the signal back into the ear - all instantaneously.

Hearing Aids are available with two types of technology: analogue and digital.

The parts of a hearing aid

There are different types of hearing aid, but they all have the same five key components:

How do hearing aids work?

  • The microphone on the outside of the hearing aid picks up sound from the air as it enters the ear and converts sound waves into digital signals
  • The amplifier strengthens the digital signals
  • The speaker converts the digital signals into vibrations that then pass through the inner ear to the brain
  • A tiny battery powers the hearing aid
  • A microchip - a miniature computer that helps us tune and personalise your hearing aid to your individual needs

Analogue hearing aids, which are not often used now, will pick up the sound, translate it into an electrical signal, amplify it, and then feed it into the ear.

Some analogue hearing aids can detect whether sounds are loud or quiet and therefore whether they need to be amplifyed or not. This means that they will recognise that loud sounds, such as traffic, do not need further amplification. This feature is known as "automatic gain control".

A digital hearing aid, on the other hand, is much more advanced than an analogue aid. It contains a silicon chip comprising millions of electrical components that continuously process incoming sound, convert it into clearer and more audible sounds and then release these at the appropriate sound level into the ear. Its sophistication allows it to distinguish between sounds that need to be amplified and unwanted noise that needs to be reduced. This differentiation allows wearers to distinguish similar sounding speech sounds much more clearly.

Because they are much more advanced, digital hearing aids can be adapted to work with an individual's personal degree of hearing loss and lifestyle needs. They have a number of pre-set programs which can be used in different situations, such as quiet conversations, concerts, or at parties where there is a great deal of background noise.

The more sophisticated digital aids enable the user to watch the TV while taking part in conversations, locate where sounds are coming from, eliminate whistling and feedback while on the phone or hugging someone, and can link up via wireless technology to the TV, mobile phone, computer or stereo system.

Also see:      Digital hearing aids