What is a Hearing Aid?
A hearing aid is an electroacoustic device which perfectly fits in or behind the wearer’s ear, and it is designed to hyperbolize and regulate sounds for the wearer. They are constructed using digital technology that can be set by an audiologist to meet your personal hearing needs.
How do we hear and when do we need Hearing Aids?
Hearing occurs when your ear transmutes sound waves into electrical signals and your brain interprets the signals and sounds. When sound waves come in your direction, they initially penetrate through the opening of your outer ear and cause the eardrum to vibrate. As the sound waves proceed toward the inner ear, the eardrum and three small bones in the middle ear intensify the vibrations. In the inner ear, the vibrations wend through fluid in the cochlea, which is a snail shaped bone chamber. Thousands of hair cells in the cochlea help transform the vibrations into electrical signals that eventually compass the auditory nerve. Structures in your brain then interpret the signals as sounds.
What causes hearing loss?
In ample number of cases where hearing loss is caused due to damage of the hair cells in cochlea, it is called “sensorineural hearing loss”. This damage occurs as a result of aging, illness, genetic factors, certain medications and exposure to loud noise. When the hair in the inner ear is damaged, electrical signals are not transmitted as effectively. This causes afflicted hearing. Sensorineural hearing loss is the main type of hearing loss that can be transposed with a hearing aid.
Why wear a Hearing Aid?
Hearing problems can curtail your daily activities. You could have issues communicating and following instructions in school, college or at work. When damage to the inner ear is the catalyst of your hearing loss, you don’t have to struggle through life because you can’t hear. A well fitted hearing aid might make sounds easier to hear. An audiologist or otolaryngologist can help you determine which type of hearing aid would be best for your condition.
How Hearing Aids work?
All hearing aids comprise of a microphone, an amplifier, a miniature loudspeaker, or receiver and a tiny battery. The microphone snaps sounds and transmutes them into electrical impulses. The amplifier modulates the electrical signals; finally the receiver converts the amplified signals into sounds and transfers them into your ear canal. Although the basic constituents of all hearing aids are the same, hearing aids differ in design, amplification technology and special features.
Types of Hearing Aid Technology
Hearing aids differ in their technology or circuitry. In the early days, hearing aid technology inculcated vacuum tubes and large heavy batteries. Now-a-days microchips, computerization, and digitalized sound processing are used in hearing aid design.
Analog programmable hearing aids consist of a microchip that allows the audiologist to program the aid for various listening environment. Example environment requires quite conversation in your home, noisy market places, restaurant or theaters. The programming setting depends on your speech understanding, individual hearing loss profile, and range for tolerance for louder sounds.
Digital programmable hearing aids subsists all the features of analog programmable aids but use digitized sound processing (DSP) to convert sound waves into digital signals. In these aids a computer chip analyzes the signals to determine if the sound is noise or speech. It then makes modifications to provide clear, amplified and distortion-free signal.
Digital hearing aids are usually self-adjusting. The processing allows for more flexibility in programming aid. The sound it transmits compeers your specific pattern of hearing loss.
This digital technology is the most expensive, but it offers many advantages. Key benefits include:
- Greater precision in fitting
- Control of acoustic feedback (whistling sounds)
- Management of loudness discomfort
- Improvement in programmability
- Noise reduction
These aids are more expensive than conventional analog hearing aids. However they have a longer life span and may provide better hearing for you in different hearing situations.
Conventional analog hearing aids are designed with a particular frequency response based on your audiogram. The audiologists suggests the manufacturer what settings to install. Although there are some adjustments, the aid essentially amplifies all sounds (speech and noise) in the same way. This technology is the least expensive and it can be appropriate for different types of hearing loss.
You can empanel various kinds of hearing aids that are made using any of these technologies. Many people are apprehensive when they recognize they have hearing loss, they feel uncomfortable with the knowledge that others will know that they have trouble hearing or have ear impairment. You shouldn’t be conscious, and you must keep your apprehensions at bay when you have such troubles, recognizing your shortcomings and getting medical help does not hamper your reputation. Stay healthy and be safe.