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How do digital hearing aids work?

By: Paul Harrison Updated: 1st September 2020 in: Latest News, Articles
How Does a Hearing Aid Work?

How Does a Hearing Aid Work?

 |  Published on 01/09/2020

What is a hearing aid?

A hearing aid is an electronic device that you either wear inside your ear or behind your ear.  These types of hearing aids are generically called:  Behind-the-ear (BTE) or in-the-ear (ITE).  A hearing aid amplifies sounds so that those with hearing loss can better hear, communicate, connect and get the most out of their lifestyle.

However, those with hearing loss don't see hearing aids as just an amplifier - they see it as more of a lifeline.  A clever and sophisticated communication device that has the ability to empower the hearing impaired - so they live life to the fullest.

Hearing aid quality & clarity

The better the quality of hearing aid the better the sound and the more natural your listening experience will be.  Device features like noise management, feedback manager, automatic volume regulator and bandwidth make the realistic soundscape possible.  The modern advanced hearing aids offer impressive ranges of features, settings and personalised options, so the wearer can experience the best possible sound for their needs and connect wirelessly to devices and to the world.

At the end of the day, the hearing aid you choose comes down to your unique specifications - but if you want to get the most out of your hearing experience the additions and high-level technology can come at a cost.  That being said, there are many models that will enhance your soundscape that will both fit your lifestyle, needs and budget.  Plus, in some cases, the best hearing aid for you might not be the most premium model on the market.  Your audiologist will discuss all the options available to you, so you can make an informed choice.

Hearing aid parts

In all good hearing aids, there are basic components - microphones, amplifiers, loudspeakers, batteries and processing chips.  The processing chip assists the advanced technology and the batteries provide the power to do so. The three main pieces of technology that ensure the functionality of the hearing aid are the microphone, amplifier and speaker.  Below are the functions of these main hearing aid parts:

The microphone receives the sounds, switches the sound waves into electrical signals and transmits them to the amplifier, which then increases the power and level of the signals and finally sends them to the ear through the speaker.  

How does a hearing aid work?

  1.  Small microphones pick up the sound around you.
  2. These sounds are analysed by a processing chip.
  3. These processed sounds are then sent to the amplifier.
  4. Amplified sounds are then sent to the loudspeaker.
  5. Then the sounds are sent by the loudspeaker into the inner ear, through tubing in an ear mould in the ear canal, or through a thin wire to a receiver in the ear.
  6. In the inner ear, these sounds switch to electrical impulses.
  7. Impulses are finally sent to the brain where they are processed.

Hearing aid parts

How can hearing aids help?

Hearing aids are used for improving hearing and speech understanding for those with hearing loss.  A hearing aid amplifies sound vibrations that go into your ear.  Those with hearing loss generally have surviving hair cells that recognise the most powerful sound vibrations and then switch them into neural signals to be sent to the brain.  

Hearing aid accessories

Most hearing aids come with a choice of accessories that can be purchased at the time or after the hearing aids have been worn for some time. These include wireless transmitters that enable the sound from a television or telephone or other devices to “beam” sound into the hearing aid.

The need for certain assistance by way of accessories can sometimes heavily influence the choice of make or model of hearing aid required.  There are some really useful ones and you should discuss accessories with your hearing aid dispenser as you may be missing out. Here are a few of the most popular ones:

  • Remote Control:  This is usually about the size of a box of matches.  It enables the person to adjust the volume, change programmes and switch different modes on and off. Some remote controls even tell you how much battery life you have left in each hearing aid.
  • Wireless TV Streamer:  This device plugs into the back of your TV set and transmits a signal directly into your hearing aids. This is a little like turning your hearing aids into wireless headphones and means you can hear the television at your own level. The other person in the room could then adjust the TV to their level or even mute the TV and you would hear it loud and clear.
  • Remote Microphone:  This is about the size of a box of matches and can be placed up to about 10 metres away. It then transmits the sound wirelessly to the hearing aid wearer. It can be clipped on another person’s lapel or placed on a table in front of someone else. Great for noisy restaurants and business meetings.
  • Phone Clip & Phone Transmitter:  This accessory picks up the signal from a mobile phone and beams it wirelessly into your hearing aids turning them into a hands-free phone kit.

Hearing aid brands

Hearing aid prices

There are many hearing aid manufacturers in the audiology industry, with a huge portfolio of hearing aids on the market that all offer different technologies to their consumers.  The main manufacturers in the industry and the ones that we stock are Phonak, Bernafon, Audio Service, Oticon, Unitron, Signia, Resound, Widex and Starkey.

The above hearing aid manufacturers that we stock all offer hearing devices at various technical specification levels and prices.  Our prices start from £345 per hearing aid.  To view our full hearing aid price list click here

Other useful information about hearing aids

Hearing Aid Batteries  |  Read Article

Bluetooth Hearing Aids  |  Read Article

Hearing Aid Styles  |  Read Article

Hearing Aid Brands  |  Read Article

Hearing Aid Insurance & Warranty  |  Discover More

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Paul Harrison
Hearing Aid Advisor
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