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About Hearing Aids – Your Guide to How They Work

About Hearing Aids – Your Guide to How They Work

Processing of modern hearing aids is complex, however, the basic components making the device work has not changed. Sound waves enter through the microphone, which converts acoustic signals into electrical signals. An amplifier then increases the strength of the electrical signal. From the amplifier, the signal is then transformed back to an acoustic signal by the receiver, a miniature loud speaker. From the receiver the signal is channeled into the ear canal, either through a small tube or through an ear mold. A battery is required to power it and enable the amplification process. Many hearing aids also have user controls enabling the wearer to adjust a variety of hearing aid parameters.

These parameters may include power on and off, changing the volume, switching to the telecoil, switching between omni- and directional-microphone settings and switching to a different pre-programmed memory. BTEs and other styles normally require computer programming to make some of the adjustments. This device is housed in a small curved case which fits behind the ear and is attached to a rubber tip receiver inserted directly into the ear canal. The case is normally flesh colored, but can be obtained in many colors and/or patterns. Typically, BTEs are the most powerful hearing aid style available often using directional microphone technology. Individuals suffering from manual dexterity or vision deficits may find it easier to handle larger battery sizes often utilized in this style of the particular device.

Factors to Consider

What should you consider when buying? The following is a list of five factors. All other things aside, your hearing aid must be a good match for your loss characteristics, fit comfortably and be adjustable, either manually, by you, or automatically. Read through these factors so you can discuss them with your hearing professional.

Loss of Hearing Characteristics – The nature and severity of your hearing loss will play a large role in determining which hearing aids are ultimately recommended to you. Your hearing professional can help you understand your unique loss characteristics, and explain the models that would best suit your needs.

Lifestyle – Consider your life, work, free-time activities. What are the things you do that are most affected by the loss? What are the things, if any, that you’re not able to do because of a hearing loss? Define your needs and set priorities. Your job may also be a factor. If you work outdoors in the elements or travel frequently, and are concerned about the devices durability, you may want to consider a back-up instrument.

Hearing Aid Technology – Sound quality is perhaps the most important consideration. It’s why you’re even considering purchasing, after all. Not every technological advance benefits every hearing loss, and it’s safe to say that even basic hearing aids can deliver appropriate sound quality. Consult with your hearing professional as he or she will help you assess the level of sophistication needed based on a range of issues.

Hand Dexterity – The smallest hearing aids are the most discreet, but they are, small. If your eyesight or dexterity are less than what they used to be, size may indeed matter. Alternatively, some new instruments adjust automatically or via remote control. Your hearing professional will instruct you as to your best choices.

Hearing Aid Appearance – Devices come in a variety of sizes. Devices range in size from tiny, completely-in-the-canal models to those that sit behind the ear, BTE’s. Many people are overly concerned about appearance, and it’s wise to remember others will be far less aware of your aid than you. Most hearing aids are quite discreet. Keep in mind that hairstyle can also play a role.