Millions of people around the world rely on hearing aids to help them capture sound better. In fact, nearly 75% of people over the age of 65 have some degree of hearing loss. If you think you’re one of those people and are curious to learn more about how hearing aids work and what options are available to you – this article will help!
Understanding How You Hear
To understand how hearing aids work, we should first explain how we hear. Your ears are strategically shaped to gather sound and funnel them through the ear canal. The sounds then come into contact with your eardrum that causes vibrations. Three tiny bones detect the vibrations and pass it onto the cochlea. The cochlea is a fluid sack filled with nerve cells and thousands of tiny hairs. These tiny hairs detect the vibrations and send electrical signals to your brain, which transmits it into sound at different frequencies.
How Hearing Loss Occurs
Hearing loss happens when the nerve cells and hairs in the cochlea become damaged. Ageing, exposure to loud noise, ear infections, tumours, and ruptured eardrums can cause wear and tear on these nerve cells and the hairs that send sound signals to the brain. Once damaged or missing, the electrical signals are no longer transmitted as normal and sounds become muffled and difficult to hear, especially with background noise.
Types of Hearing Loss
Hearing loss is commonly defined as one of four types: Conductive, Sensorineural, Auditory Processing Disorders or Mixed. Conductive simply involves the outer or middle ear and occurs when there is a problem with passing sound to the inner ear. Ear infections, punctured eardrums, abnormal bone growth, and too much ear wax are common causes. Sensorineural involves the inner ear and occurs when the cochlea or auditory nerve is damaged and unable to send electrical information to the brain. And auditory processing disorders occur when the brain has problems understanding speech or where sounds are coming from.
What Hearing Aids Do To Help
Hearing aids are designed to help you hear better. They don’t work to restore normal hearing, but they do amplify sound waves to help make certain sounds louder and clearer. There are various types of hearing aids, but they all have the same components: a microphone, amplifier, speaker and battery. The microphone sits either outside or near the outside of the ear and picks up sounds from the surrounding environment. The computer chip in the amplifier then converts these sound waves into electrical signals. And depending on your level of hearing and the surrounding sounds, the amplifier will adjust the sounds and then covert the sound waves and delivered to your ear through the speaker. This helps one to hear speech better and pick up sounds that are more difficult to hear following a hearing loss – such as children’s’ and women’s voices.
Types of Hearing Aids
Hearing aids come in a variety of sizes, styles, prices and offer a range of features. The most common hearing aids include:
• BTE – Behind the Ear – This model hooks a tube that connects an earmold inside your ear, up and over the top of your ear and to the speaker that rests behind the ear. These are large and visible, but they can amplify sound better.
• RIC – Receiver-in-Canal – Similar to a BTE but uses a tiny wire instead of a tube to connect the speaker to the receiver.
• ITE — In the Ear – These are much smaller and fit snug in the bowl-shaped area of the outer ear or lower part. These are less visible than BTE and offer a full range of features, including volume control and long battery life.
• ITC – In the canal – A moulded hearing aid that fits partly in the ear canal. One of the biggest benefits of an ITC is that it still can offer several features that a CIC cannot offer, while still being discreet.
• CIC – Completely in the canal – An aid that is moulded to fit inside your ear canal to improve mild to moderate hearing loss. These are the smallest and least visible model and are less likely to pick up on wind noise. However, they have a shorter battery life due to small batteries and don’t often contain all the extra features other hearing aids offer.
Many hearing aids offer optional features to help improve your ability to hear better. These include noise reduction, directional microphones, rechargeable batteries, wireless connectivity, remote controls, direct audio input to a TV or device, programmable settings, noise control, and synchronization between left and right aids.
How To Know Which One Is Right For You?
Not all hearing aids are the same or will provide the same level of amplification properties. When looking for a hearing aid, it’s essential to get a hearing test from a certified audiologist. They will be able to assess your hearing and help determine which is the right device for your needs.
If you think you need a hearing aid, see us at Robillard Hearing Centres. We will test your hearing and fit you with the best hearing aid for your condition and budget. We also offer a trial period to ensure that it’s the right one for you! To learn more about our services and financing plans, contact us today!