How Hearing Aids Work
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The types of hearing loss
There are three different types of hearing loss with unique causes for each of them.
Sensorineural hearing loss: Sensorineural hearing loss is the most common type of hearing loss caused by impairments to the nerves of the inner ear and hair cells. This impairment is due to a variety of factors such as disease, aging, and noise damage.
Conductive hearing loss: Conductive hearing loss is significantly due to the blockading of the outer and middle ear from the conduction of sounds. The obstruction may be due to fluid or earwax.
Mixed hearing loss: Mixed hearing loss is typically the combination of both the Sensorineural and conductive type of hearing loss. It, however, results from the impairment of both the inner and middle ear.
The differences in the causes of the following types of hearing losses require different methods of treatment. They may either be treated surgically with the use of medications or hearing aids.
Your doctor may recommend surgical treatment or medications for both the Conductive and mixed hearing losses. On the contrary, a doctor will recommend a hearing aid for those suffering from Sensorineural hearing loss.
A hearing aid, however, is an electronic device that improves the degree of sound audibility for easy listening and communication in individuals suffering from hearing loss.
A hearing aid also provides several benefits apart from fulfilling its primary function, which is the improvement of communication and mitigation of one’s listening effort. Other benefits include the reduction of Tinnitus symptoms (an extremely high-pitched sound in the ear).
Functions of the components that make up a hearing aid
The hearing aid comprises four components that function differently for a similar purpose of initiating signals that makes the device possess several properties typically for the improvement of communication and reduction of listening efforts for individuals with hearing loss issues. These components are microphone, amplifier, receiver, and battery.
Microphone: A hearing aid microphone Is the first significant component that makes up a hearing aid. The primary purpose of this microphone involves the receiving of external sounds and their conversion into electrical signals.
Amplifier: The hearing aid amplifier primarily increases the volume of sound signals received from the surrounding via the hearing aid microphone. However, it amplifies only the important sounds via the use of equalizers and specialized filters.
Receiver: A hearing aid receiver is also called the speaker because it makes the user aware of the conversion of the electrical signals from external sounds picked by the microphone into acoustic signals.
Battery: The power source of a hearing aid is a specialized battery with a life span that ranges from five to fourteen days. However, this life span is dependent on a few factors that include the type of hearing aid, battery size, and amount of usage.
These components are responsible for the hearing aid’s capacity to improve communication and reduce listening strength.
The styles of hearing aids
The hearing aid, however, comes in a variety of sophisticated styles, among which the hearing aid apt for you depends on the recommendation of your audiologist or otolaryngologist— primarily based on the severity of one’s hearing loss. The various styles of hearing aid include the following:
In-the-ear hearing aid (ITE): ITE hearing aids are for individuals with a less severe or severe kind of hearing loss. They are designed in a way that makes them occupy the inner-outer ear with its components held encompassed by a hard plastic cover.
An ITE hearing aid provides ease for individuals to listen to sounds over a phone conversation. It also helps individuals to hear audibly in a surrounding with special sound systems, also known as induction loop systems that may be found in several places such as churches, airports and auditoriums. These benefits of an ITE hearing aid is due to the presence of telecoil over the regular microphone component that makes up a hearing aid.
Behind-the-ear hearing aid (BTH): BTH hearing aids comprise a connection of a hard plastic handle enclosing its electronic components, worn behind the ear with a plastic earmold, which carries sound into the ear that is inserted in the outer ear. Doctors may recommend this type of hearing aid for hearing loss that ranges from mild to malignant.
Canal aid: Canal aid occurs in two different types depending on the way they fit into the canal of the ear. The two types of canal aid are in-the-canal and completely-in-canal hearing aids. In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aid is designed to fit the exact size and shape of the individual’s ear canal, while completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aid is made to be small and almost subtle in the ear canal.
The small size of a canal aid makes it unable to accommodate extra devices such as telecoils and batteries, limiting the power and volume of sound it provides. Hence, otolaryngologists do not recommend them for individuals with severe hearing loss.
Furthermore, the conversion of sound in a hearing aid may either via an analog method that converts sound waves to electronic signals or a digital process that convert sound waves to numerical codes synonymous with the binary codes of a computer before its amplification. Whichever the case may be, they can be programmed to some specific frequencies that will be amplified by the hearing aid to several listening environments.
There are three different types of hearing loss, sensorineural, conductive and mixed hearing loss, all of which requires surgical treatment but sensorineural hearing loss. Doctors recommend the use of hearing aid to treat Sensorineural hearing loss, which comes in different designs— such as for in-the-ear, behind-the-hear and canal hearing aid.
They do not result in the drastic restoration of your normal hearing ability but influence your awareness of sound. However, it will be best to visit your doctor, who will recommend the best hearing aid design apt for your type of hearing loss.