How do hearing aids help you hear?

All of our senses are important to us but our hearing is probably one of the most important. It helps alert us to danger. Helping us to communicate with friends and family. It is also an essential part of how we navigate the world around us.

When our hearing starts to fail us it can be a scary and unknown time. Whether this be through age, disease or an injury .

Thank you to the advancements in modern science and medicine we do have a treatment. Although it will not restore our hearing it can go a long way to making our lives more normal. 

There are several different types of hearing aids available today. It does depend on the severity of your hearing loss. Your lifestyle requirements. Also, whether you are a private patient, or are obtaining your hearing aids with the NHS helps to determine which type will be more beneficial to you.

When were hearing aids invented?

Hearing aids were first created in 1898. It was not until 1970 that they quickly began to evolve into the high tech hearing aids of today.

The improvement of hearing loss treatments has greatly increased with the creation of high speed processors. Starting with microcomputers in the 1980’s, digital hearing aids in the 1990’s and Bluetooth enabled hearing aids in the 2010’s. 

How does a hearing aid work? 

There are several types of hearing aids but they all typically work in the same way.

They have three main parts – 

  • A microphone
  • An amplifier
  • A receiver

The following stages take place –

  1. Sound is received through the microphone and is converted into an electrical signal.
  1. This signal is then boosted using the in-built amplifier.
  1. It will be then be modified to meet your needs as the user. the degree to which is depending on the severity of your hearing loss.
  1. This amplified sound is then sent through to your ear via the receiver. 

If you have hearing loss in both ears then you will require two hearing aids. They can both be adjusted to meet the degree of hearing loss in both ears.

Almost all hearing aids are now digital. This means that they are programmed to meet your specific needs and lifestyle requirements. You will have different settings for different environments.

For example, situations such as a one on one conversation or conversing with a large group of people. 

What is a hearing loop? 

A hearing loop, which is also called an audio induction loop, is now available in many public places. For example a church or meeting room.

Most hearing aids now come with a ‘T’ program setting. When you are in an area with a hearing loop the sound is picked up through the microphone and amplified. So long as your hearing aid is programmed to this setting.

The signal is then sent through the loop cable. This is a wire that has been placed around the perimeter of the area radiating the signal back to the hearing aid

What are the benefits to a hearing loop? 

A hearing loop can help in situations much like the following scenarios –

  • They can cut out unwanted background noise
  • There is no need to wear a receiver or a headset
  • The sound goes directly to the hearing aid
  • It is a cost effective method of assisting those with hearing loss 
  • Any number of users can use the system at the same time

What types of hearing aids are available? 

There are several different types of hearing aids available today.

It does depend on a few factors as to which hearing aid suits you best –

  1. The severity of your hearing loss
  1. Your lifestyle requirements
  1. If you are a private patient or are obtaining your hearing aids with the NHS

These factors will dictate which type will be more beneficial to you. 

  • Behind-The-Ear (BTE) – This is probably the most well known type of hearing aid. It has two parts which make up its construction. A hard plastic casing that sits behind the ear which is connected to an earmold that sits inside of your outer ear. 
  • Receiver-In-Canal (RIC) – This is similar to a behind-the-ear but is much smaller. A very small wire connects the hearing aid to a receiver that sits within the earmold. 
  • In-The-Ear (ITE) and In-The-Canal (ITC) – With both an ITE and an ITC both sit within the outer ear although an ITC sits even deeper into the ear canal. 
  • Completely-In-Canal (CIC) and Invisible-In-Canal (IIC) – These two types of hearing aids sit in the ear canal making it almost or completely invisible. These are obviously much smaller so are not suitable for all users. 

If you believe that you are suffering from some degree of hearing loss it is important that you make an appointment to see your General Practitioner. They will be able to refer you to an audiologist.

There are several types of hearing tests they can perform. This allows them to measure your degree of hearing loss. Aiding them in advising you on the best course of action. 

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