Improving your hearing to improve your life

How Do Hearing Aids Work? How Effective are They?

two hearing aids on display

The human brain and body are amazing things. We have so many different abilities, and the pieces that make up our abilities are so very intricate that we’ll be learning about them for years to come. Our ears are just another amazing part of us – in fact, the way in which we’re able to comprehend certain noises is taken for granted by most.

Not every human being on the planet has the privilege of being able to hear everything as clearly as they’d like, however. Many out there need support in one way or another. For millions of people on the planet, hearing aids are a godsend. Let’s delve a little into these gadgets.  

Firstly, what actually is a hearing aid?

A hearing aid is a small, electronic device that helps someone with hearing loss to hear much better and to understand speech with much more clarity. The device is placed behind the ear so as to sit comfortably while one goes about their day. The tip is then placed into the ear canal. They aren’t exclusive to a particular person or age group – anyone who needs one will be able to obtain a hearing aid after receiving professional help, guidance and clearance from an audiologist. 

When would someone need one? 

Hearing is obviously a pretty vital part of life, so a hearing aid should be considered whenever you experience long and significant bouts of hearing loss. If you feel as though your hearing has declined somewhat, that’s when it should be seriously contemplated. An audiologist would recommend an aid if a test shows hearing loss across many different pitches

So, how do they work?

Your standard hearing aid works by simply taking sounds and making them a little louder for the wearer. The device has a small microphone inside that absorbs the sounds and turns them into digital signals. An amplifier increases the strength of the signals and fires a louder noise out the speaker inside. Some hearing aids have a volume control, so the wearer is able to adjust the sound of the environment they’re in.

And how effective are they?

Unfortunately, those out there who have no ability to hear from both ears will not be able to boost their chances with a hearing aid – complete deaf people will feel no difference. While hearing aids do not completely cure hearing loss or fix those who are fully deaf, they do a very good job of improving the lives of many, many people. Those with significant hearing damage may tend to struggle in social situations, which usually leads to depression, anxiety and many other personal, emotional issues. Hearing aids can help these kinds of situations handily. 

In terms of other physical issues, we have enough evidence to argue that hearing aids help people that are dealing with tinnitus – an issue that affects a significant chunk of the population all over the world. Hearing loss has been heavily linked with dementia, too, and hearing aids can do a lot in terms of steering it away

Are there different types of hearing aids?

There are two types of hearing aids: analog and digital. The analog hearing aids convert sound waves into digital signals and make noises more prominent for the wearer, these are less likely to be recommended because they aren’t as advanced as digital devices. Digital hearing aids convert sound waves into codes that give information regarding the pitch, direction and volume of a certain sound. 

Within these two types, you can get three different styles of hearing aids: in the canal (ITC), in the ear (ITE) and behind the ear (BTE). ITC hearing aids, as the name suggests, fit entirely within your ear canal, and are harder to notice – they tend to be kept away from children as obvious issues may unfold. ITE devices fit in the outer ear and are suitable for people with mild-to-severe hearing loss. BTE hearing aids are the typical devices you will have seen around. They sit atop the ear and circle around, then entering the ear canal. The ergonomics of the device make the hearing aid relatively comfortable for the wearer, and the size means a larger battery can be used. 

Are they expensive?

As you would expect, the more advanced and effective the hearing device, the more the investment. Your audiologist will be able to work with you to find a device that fits into your lifestyle, hearing loss and budget needs. This will include helping you select the right type, as well as what features you will benefit most from. To learn more about your hearing aid options and how Audiology and Hearing Aid Services can help you get the right one, contact our office at 912-351-3038.