Hearing Aids Overview
Hearing aids are designed to receive and enhance sound from your surroundings. Such sounds are analyzed and converted into signals that your ear can pick up. While they come in all shapes and sizes, all hearing aids share the same basic components:
- The microphone picks up the signal.
- The amplifier makes the sound louder.
- The receiver transmits the louder sound to the ear.
- The battery provides power supply.
Hearing aids are intended to support the hearing process, and they work in several respects, similar to our natural auditory system.
Treating Hearing Loss with Hearing Aids
Our outer ear captures sound and transmits it to the middle ear. The eardrum converts sound waves into vibrations that then translate into sound signals through the inner ear. These signals travel along nerve pathways to the brain's auditory center, where they are processed as sounds.
One or more stages in this cycle are impeded when there is hearing loss. Hearing aids assist the hearing process by capturing, interpreting, clarifying, and processing sound data that our brains may then understand as sound.
Hearing Aid Styles
There are several hearing aid options available, depending on your degree of hearing loss and personal preferences. Here are the common hearing aid styles.
IIC hearing aids are fitted deep in the ear canal, making them pretty much invisible. They are suitable for those with mild to moderate hearing loss. Some IIC models come with remote controls that help you adjust the volume.
CIC hearing aids are similar in style to the IIC, but they are slightly larger. They are removed by pulling on a short wire from the ear canal. CIC hearing aids are designed to treat hearing loss from mild to moderate degrees.
This style is visible within your ear. ITE hearing aids are larger than IIC or CIC hearing aids and are easy to operate and the right choice for those with dexterity issues. ITE hearing aids are made to treat a broader spectrum of hearing disorders, from moderate to severe.
RIC hearing aids are nearly identical to BTE hearing aids and vary only in how the sound is transmitted. True to their name, RIC hearing aids place the receiver in your ear canals, while a plastic case containing the electronic components is situated behind the ear.
BTE hearing aids are made of two parts: a plastic enclosure that sits "behind the ear" and houses the hearing aid's electronic components and a clear plastic tube that fits into the ear, providing sound. BTE hearing aids handle the full range of hearing loss, from mild to severe hearing loss, and are often recommended for their versatility. Their slender silhouettes behind the ear offer a good level of discretion too.
Hearing Aid Features
Directional microphones pick up only the important sounds in your environment, and the quick processing platform of the hearing aid amplifies and analyzes the sounds you wish to hear. This means the hearing aid only focuses on the sounds you intend to hear and disregards ambient noise from around the room.
Many hearing aid models are equipped with telecoils. This feature allows you to link through electromagnetic waves to induction loop systems, which delivers crisp sound directly to your ears from PA systems in public spaces.
In recent years, Bluetooth is one of the most exciting technologies to enter the hearing aid industry. Bluetooth is a wireless communication system that contributes to the transfer of data between two or more electronic devices with the assistance of leading technology companies.
Bluetooth technology has several advantages. When connected to another device, sound is delivered directly to the hearing aids in your ears, allowing you to listen to your music with ease and have seamless conversations on the phone, without having to remove your hearing aids.
Compared to hearing aids with traditional disposable batteries, rechargeable hearing aids have built-in batteries that do not require regular removal. Instead of replacing the batteries yourself, you simply place your hearing aids into a charging station every night, similar to how smartphones recharge. Rechargeable batteries have revolutionized hearing aids, and many rechargeable hearing aid models can now be used on a single charge for an entire day. With the introduction of Lithium-ion batteries, rechargeable hearing aids have now become the standard.