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How do hearing aids work?

Question

Based on the advice of my audiologists I know that hearing aids have a proven track record of working well for most people who use them. I’ve done some reading on how the different types of hearing aids but in all honesty I am still not quite sure how they work. I hate to ask for an answer on a silver platter, but could you make my life easier and explain how hearing aids work in laymen’s terms for me?

Answer

All hearing aids operate in roughly the same manner and they all have the basic components of:

Microphone – this is like an ordinary microphone but much smaller. This picks up the sound from the environment. In many cases the hearing aid can have 2 microphones, one facing towards the front and one towards the back. By having the sound inputs from 2 directions enables the aid to focus sound originating from the front.

Receiver – this is really a miniature speaker that plays the amplified sound to your ear.

Amplifier/processor – this is the bit between the microphone and receiver that calculates how much amplification to provide and at what frequencies. This part of the hearing aid is usually digital and can perform some amazing calculations in the blink of an eye.

Hearing aid specifications usually mention the number of bands or channels which ranges anywhere from 2 to 22. These are the number of different frequencies that the sound is divided into before it is processed. Generally, the higher the number, the more shapeable the sound and the more sophisticated the hearing aid. These work a bit like a graphic equalizer on a stereo system. The more little sliders you have, the better the stereo. There are of course many more interesting features of a hearing aid and I have simplified things. If you would like more information then why not call us and we can explain things in as much or as little detail as you wish. 

Date: Friday 29th March, 2013

Published in: Hearing Aid Questions

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