Hearing aids is a small electronic device that is designed to wear behind the ear which is used to make some sound louder so that the person with hearing loss can listen, communicate and participate more in daily activities.
These machines are for those people who are suffering from hearing loss or hearing impairment. They primarily helpful in improving the hearing and speech comprehension of people who have hearing loss by damage to the small sensory cells in the inner ear.
This damage can occur as a result of disease, aging, or injury from noise or certain medicines. If you need help choosing the best hearing aids in the Indian market, you can consider visiting an audiologist.
Hearing aids work differently which depends on the electronics they used. The two main types of electronics that are used in hearing aids are:
- Analog aids are used to convert sound waves into an amplified electrical signal. They are custom built according to user’s need.
- Digital hearing aids convert sound waves into numeric codes before amplifying them which is also known as Digital circuitry. These aids are useful to focus on sounds coming from a specific direction.
How Hearing Aids Works?
A hearing aid magnifies the sound vibrations coming into the ear converting them into neural signals that are passed along to the brain. These hearing aids can provide a limited amount of amplification.
Following are some basic components that are essential in working of a hearing aid:
The microphone picks up the sound and converts it into an electrical signal and sent it to the amplifier which can be understood by a processor. In beginning, the microphones were not able to differentiate between the speech and background noise. To develop speech and conversation and minimizing input from background noise, the directional microphones needed to be adjusted. And in a result now the microphones process the sound differently to give a seamless hearing experience.
Microphones are mainly of two types: directional and omnidirectional. Directional microphones are used to pick up sound from the front of the wearer which is helpful to understand conversation in a noisy environment.
Omnidirectional microphones are used to pick up sound from each and every direction and give the user a real-time experience. New hearing aids are furnished with both types of microphones to help the user to pick up the sound from multiple directions to create a more natural hearing experience.
The amplifier also called a processor is worked like the computer or motherboard of your hearing aid. It will take the electrical signals from the microphone and convert it to a digital form which can be manipulated later. This is a step of the digital signal adjusted according to wearers requirements. It also fulfills the need for sound amplification which will effectively accommodate the person’s hearing loss. This develops the severity of the signals.
According to the requirement, any type of feedback or noise from wind is canceled or reduced. This is where a masking feature for tinnitus might be added. As other necessary adjustments are done to the digital signal, then it is converted back to an analog signal and the signal is sent to the next hearing aid component.
It is the final component of the process which is directed at the wearer’s inner ear. The receiver will take the amplified signal from the processor and delivered it to the ear canal where the final product can be heard.
Before going to wearer’s ear, the signal sent from the processor is converted into audible sounds. Because of the different styles of hearing aid, placement of receiver also alters. If the behind-the-ear (BTE) style is considered, it styles like a receiver in the ear (RITE) and receiver-in-canal (RIC) that sits closer to the eardrum.
A battery is the sole source to provide power to all the hearing aid components otherwise hearing aids will be of no use. Hearing aids batteries come in four basic sizes based on the type of hearing aid. They might be of two types: zinc-air disposables (most common) and rechargeable.
BTE model is powered by the largest batteries which last for about two weeks. In-the-ear models are powered by the smallest batteries which last up to one week almost. Hearing aids that are rechargeable have grown into popularity, especially to seniors and people with dexterity problems because they are easier to use.
Here is how a hearing aid works step-by-step
- The sound is picked up by a microphone
- Processing chips analyzed these sounds
- After processing, the sounds will be sent to the amplifier
- Now amplified sounds will be sent to the receiver
- Sounds will transmit from the receiver to the inner ear
- Sounds are now transformed into electrical impulses into the inner ear
- These impulses are picked up by the brain where they are processed
As the hearing technology is advancing, new advance features are coming up along with the basic functionality. You can consider to choose them if it required by you.