What is a hearing aid?
Hearing aids help people who have a hearing loss hear better and improve their hearing. A hearing aid is placed in or behind the ear. Several studies and surveys have shown that the use of hearing aids improve quality of life.
Hearing aid technology is constantly evolving and becoming increasingly advanced. Modern hearing aids are digital and are in fact small, high-tech computers which are constantly being refined and developed to provide a better reproduction of natural human hearing.
Adapts to the situation
Today, digital hearing aids continuously and automatically analyse the actual environment and adapt to it – and to changes in the situation. In this way, the hearing aids automatically provide you with the most optimal hearing in the actual situation.
Still more features
The progress of digital hearing aids allows for increasing numbers of sophisticated features to be built into the hearing aids and provide improved sound reproduction. The ability to adapt the hearing aids to individual demands with respect to your daily environment and type of hearing loss is constantly improving.
Many hearing aids can be managed by an app on a smartphone, letting the user adjust and control the hearing aids to their actual needs.
All new hearing aids from an acknowledged manufacturer are quality devices based on modern digital technology and all the leading manufacturers offer hearing aids in different price ranges. Even the most affordable devices use modern technology and are quality products.
Two major categories
Hearing aids can be divided into two major categories:
- Behind-the-ear hearing aids (BTE hearing aids)
- In-the-ear hearing aids (ITE hearing aids)
Behind the ear (BTE hearing aids)
There are three types of behind-the-ear hearing aids:
- BTEs where the receiver sits in the casing behind the ear
- BTEs with a receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) or receiver-in-ear (RIE)
- BTEs with the receiver-in-canal (RIC).
In the ear (ITE hearing aids)
In-the ear hearing aids (ITE) are typically divided into these categories:
- Invisible-In-the-Canal (IIC) hearing aids, where the hearing aids sit inside the ear canal where people can't see them.
- Completely-In-the-Canal (CIC) hearing aids, where the hearing aids sit inside the ear canal and are hard to see but not entirely hidden
- In-The-Canal (ITC) hearing aids sit in the ear canal with a faceplate visible in the lower part of the ear.
- In-the ear (ITE) hearing aids where the hearing aids fill up more of the visible part of the ear.
Bluetooth and other types of connectivity
Many hearing aids can connect to other electronic devices, directly or indirectly, via Bluetooth, making it possible to stream sounds, e.g. music directly into the hearing aids. The latest generation of Bluetooth, LE Audio, will provide broadcasting of signals from many types of media to any user in the range of the transmitter who uses hearing aids.
Other types of connectivity are FM-systems or line-in options (mini-jack). These are typically connected to the hearing aids with a special device that sends wireless signals to the hearing aids.
Finally, some hearing aids are equipped with telecoils, letting the hearing aids connect to a loop system. A loop system is a special type of sound system for people who use hearing aids. The loop system provides a magnetic wireless signal that is picked up by a hearing aid when it is set to the T-setting (telecoil).
CROS hearing aids
If you have a severe or profound unilateral hearing loss (single-sided deafness), a so-called CROS hearing aid is often used. A CROS hearing aid sends the sound, often wirelessly, from the affected ear to the normal hearing ear.
Hearing aids and tinnitus
A hearing loss is often accompanied by tinnitus. Many manufacturers of hearing aids also offer hearing aids with functions and program options that help reduce the discomfort of the tinnitus.
Hearing aids for children
Acknowledged manufacturers of hearing aids also typically have product ranges for children with hearing loss, including babies, infants and toddlers. Read more about hearing aids for children.
How does a hearing aid work?
All digital hearing aids consist of the same four major parts or components. The device consists of:
- A microphone
- A computer
- An amplifier
- A loudspeaker
The microphone picks up sounds (the audio signal) from the air and converts them into electrical signals. The computer manipulates the electronic signals to fit the hearing loss of the individual user. The amplifier increases the intensity of the signals from the microphone. Finally, the loudspeaker in the device converts the electrical signals from the amplifier into the acoustic signals heard by the user.
Hearing aid batteries
Besides this, all hearing aids are driven by batteries. The hearing aid batteries can be rechargeable batteries or they can be disposable batteries. Read more about hearing aid batteries.
Which hearing aid should I choose?
The best hearing aids for you should compensate for your personal hearing loss. You should always choose hearing aids which match your needs. A hearing care professional should therefore always guide you when choosing your hearing aids.
Hearing aids provide a person with hearing loss a better hearing and improve their perception of speech and other sounds. Hearing aids can however not restore hearing back to normal hearing.