How does a hearing aid work?

For people struggling with hearing loss or hearing difficulties, the hearing aid has been one of the most useful medical and technological advancements of the modern world. Hearing aids can give users a new lease on life.

Hearing aids can either be worn behind the ear or inside the ear, and they are usually made up of five parts. Firstly there is a small microphone to pick up sound, a microchip that will cater the received sound for the best experience for the specific user, an amplifier to increase the source sound, a loudspeaker to output the sound for the user, and finally a battery to power the whole process.

There are also two primary types of hearing aids, the analog hearing aid and the digital hearing aid. The analog version is not used very often any more, as the technology evident in the digital version has superseded its counterpart.

Digital hearing aids have the ability to be more finely tuned to the needs of the specific user. Factors such as the direction sounds are coming from, the elimination of excess noise, and device connectivity options are all feasible with a digital hearing aid.

In a step by step nutshell, this is how a modern hearing aid will make your life easier and more vibrant. Initially, the microphone will pick up the sound as your ear normally would, the chip analyses the sounds, processes them and sends them to the amplifier. The actual sounds are then transmitted via the loudspeaker into the appropriate destination within the ear. In the inner ear these sounds are modified into electrical impulses where the brain then processes them.

It is actually the brain that processes the sounds we hear—the ear is simply the funnel. The job of hearing aids is to improve the effectiveness of a damaged ear at getting those sounds to the brain where they can then be understood by an individual.