Human beings rely on all five senses for their day-to-day activities. Harm, injuries, age, or congenital disabilities might cause one or more of the five senses to regress or completely stop functioning. However, you don't need to accept losing your senses if something can be done about it. With the current advance in technology, you can fix senses like sight or hearing depending on the level of damage or regression. Hearing loss is a thing of the past; with a hearing aid, you can regain some level of your hearing, if not better than before.
What is a hearing aid?
Hearing aids are little electronic devices worn behind or inside the ear to help make sounds louder for people with hearing loss to listen better. A hearing aid allows people with hearing loss to participate in conversations in noisy and quiet environments.
Once you conduct a hearing test, an otolaryngologist will prescribe a hearing aid if you are diagnosed with hearing loss. The most current devices (Digital hearing aids) can be calibrated to a specific pattern and degree depending on the level of hearing loss. It also has automatic features that can be programmed to adjust the volume in different settings.
How does it work?
All hearing aids have a similar makeup and work in the same way. The device comprises three primary components: an amplifier, speaker, and microphone. The microphone's primary function is to pick up sounds from the surrounding environment. The sound collected is delivered to a chip that analyzes and adjusts the sound to your diagnosed type of hearing loss.
Once the sounds are processed, they are delivered to the amplifier. After amplification, sounds are sent to the speaker and transmitted to your inner ear. A tubing placed in the ear mold or a wire connected to a receiver is responsible for conveying sounds from the speaker to the inner ear.
The sounds are then converted into electrical impulses that the brain can intercept. The rest is up to the brain, which processes electrical impulses into sounds. Hearing aids run on conventional aid batteries or rechargeable batteries. Some hearing aids come fitted with unique features, but the core principle of how they work has been mentioned above.
Types of hearing aids and how do they work?
There are only two types of hearing aids which are:
- Analog: Analog hearing aids the process and converts sounds into electrical signals. Analog hearing aids are adjustable and custom-built to satisfy every user's needs. The manufacturers program the device on recommendations by your otolaryngologist. They have more than one setting and can be programmed using a computer to work perfectly in different environments or situations - from a large theater hall to a tiny quiet room. Analog hearing aids are generally less expensive than digital hearing aids, but they still do the job.
- Digital: Just like computer binary code, digital aids convert sound into numerical codes before they can be amplified. Since the codes include data on sound loudness and pitch, the device can be programmed to amplify specific frequencies and sound waves more than others. It also can focus direct focus on sounds coming from a specific direction. This trait allows for more flexibility when it comes to programing because of its digital circuitry.
Designs of hearing aids
The market has various hearing aids, with more brands popping up daily. However, they all work around three similar design concepts: Behind-the-ear, In-the-ear, and canal.
Behind the ear (BTE)
BTE hearing aids contain a hard polyethylene case that comfortably fits behind the ear and is connected to a plastic worn in the outer ear. The electronic circuits are housed inside the case behind the ears. Sound is conveyed to the ear via a thin tube to the ear mold after they have been amplified. People of all ages can use the device to assist with mild to severe hearing loss.
The market has delivered a new kind of Behind the Ear aid featuring open-fit hearing. Open-fit models fit behind the ear perfectly, allowing for a narrow tube to go inside the ear canal, which enables the ear canal to remain open. This feature is perfect for people who experience a build-up of ear wax. Other people prefer open-fit hearing aids since their perception of sound doesn't seem unplugged.
This version of hearing aids fits nicely inside your outer ear and is excellent for mild to profound hearing loss. Its electronic circuit is housed in a plastic case and may contain extra features like a telecoil. Its tiny magnetic coil enables the user to get sound from the hearing aid circuitry instead of its microphone.
The feature allows for more accessible hearing of conversations over the phone, public facilities with sound systems like induction loop systems, and many more situations. All ages wear ITE aids, but they are not popular among children since the casing has to be replaced with growth.
In the Canal (ITC)
In the Canal hearing aids come in two designs and fit completely in the inner ear. The (ITC) listening aid is designed to fit the ear canal's dimensions and form. The ear canal conceals a (CIC) hearing aid almost entirely, which is perfect for people who don't want everyone knowing they have hearing loss. It can be employed for people suffering from profound to moderate hearing loss.
In the canal hearing aids may very well be challenging for a new user to adapt to due to their small size, but once you get acquainted, it becomes pretty easy to use. Additionally, there is less room for batteries and extra equipment like telecoils. Because their smaller size restricts their strength and amplitude, they are typically not advised for infants or persons with severe hearing loss.
The basis of a good relationship is communication hearing loss can cripple your day-to-day life if not carefully looked after. Using this device helps people experiencing hearing loss regain a sense of normalcy. Reading this article will help you understand all you need to know about the inner workings of a hearing aid and hopefully encourage those who need to get it.