Do you or someone you know use hearing aids? Chances are, the answer to that question is yes. Statistics show that almost 40 million people in the United States live with hearing loss, and almost 30 million of those could benefit from wearing hearing aids.
Over the years, hearing aids have evolved from simple amplification devices to something sophisticated, personalized, and more like a small computer. They make hearing with hearing loss more natural than ever before thanks to an ever-growing variety of features and advancing technology.
Using them is often as easy as turning them on and putting them into your ears (after some adjustments and walk-throughs with your hearing healthcare provider to get you started), but it’s always a good idea to better understand how they work. Here’s what you need to know about hearing aids.
Hearing aid 101
Hearing aids have come a long way, especially in recent years. The first electrical hearing aids were introduced in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, and the shift from analog to digital changed the way we hear with hearing aids starting in the late twentieth century. Digital hearing aids are considered a revolutionary change in the hearing healthcare industry.
While hearing aids offer a variety of styles and features to help with everything from managing to tinnitus to hearing a conversation with background noise, their basic anatomy remains the same.
Microphone – This component picks up the sound around the wearer and creates a digital code for it. The code from the microphone is becoming ever more specific to help the wearer hear differences in pitch and tone for a more complete understanding. This can be especially helpful in conversation. Programming for the hearing aid can help personalize the digital code for each individual’s unique needs and hearing loss. This programming can be adjusted by a hearing healthcare provider or, in some hearing aids, with the help of an app.
Amplifier – The digital code sent from the microphone is then sent to the amplifier to enhance and increase the level of the sound for better hearing.
Speaker – Once the sound has been amplified, it can be translated back into sound and sent to the inner ear to be heard.
Battery – Without a power source, all of this function wouldn’t be possible. Many hearing aids have batteries that can be replaced as needed. Some models have rechargeable batteries that can be used again and again.
Dome or earmold – depending on the type of hearing aid and level of hearing loss, the hearing aid may include either a dome or earmold. The dome is a smaller silicone piece that fits into the ear canal. An earmold is a piece that sits in the ear canal and outside around the opening of the ear canal.
There are so many options now available when it comes to hearing aids, but these are the building blocks of all of them.
Finding the best hearing aid
If you believe you have hearing loss, contact us to schedule a hearing evaluation and discuss hearing aid options. Our team can help you determine your unique levels of hearing loss, choose the best hearing aid option for you, and even give you help in caring for and getting used to wearing hearing aids.