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How do Hearing Aids Work? How Effective Are They?
If you experience a change in your hearing, you should visit an hearing instrument specialist to get tested. Early intervention will help to protect your hearing in later life and prevent other issues that are associated with hearing loss.
After your first hearing loss appointment, you may be referred to a hearing instrument specialist to be fitted for hearing aids. At this stage, you may be wondering how hearing aids work and whether they are effective or not. This page should tell you everything you need to know about the inner workings of hearing aids, but if you have more questions, an experienced hearing instrument specialist will be able to answer them for you.
How do hearing aids work?
Although there are different types of hearing aids available, they all function in the same way and have the same basic components:
- Computer chips
The microphones in your hearing aid pick up all of the sounds around you. These sounds are then analyzed by the computer chip before being sent to the amplifier. In modern hearing aids, the computer chip can pick out certain sounds, like voices and prioritize these so it is easier for you to follow conversations.
The sound is then amplified and played through a loudspeaker, so you can hear it properly. From there, sound travels to your inner ear where it is picked up and processed by your brain.
This is the basic way that all hearing aids work, but they will be adjusted and programmed based on your specific needs, so the computer chip knows which sound to amplify the most. For example, some people have difficulty hearing low pitched sounds while others find it harder to hear high pitched sounds.
Your hearing aids will also adjust based on the environment that you are in. For example, they will work differently in a quiet room with a few people, and a busy restaurant with lots of background noise. A hearing instrument specialist will select the right hearing aids based on your specific needs.
Hearing aids are available in a number of different styles, depending on your personal preference and the nature of your hearing loss. You can get behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids, which have a piece that fits inside the ear, as well as a section behind the ear. In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids do not have this piece behind the ear and there is one single piece that fits in the opening of the ear. ITE hearing aids come as a full shell, which covers the entire ear opening or half shell, which covers the bottom half. In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids are the least noticeable type of hearing aids as they fit deeper inside the ear canal. However, they are not always suitable for people with severe hearing loss.
How effective are hearing aids?
It is estimated that only around 20% of people that would benefit from hearing aids actually wear them. There are a few reasons for this but often, people do not realize how much difference they can make. Hearing loss develops gradually so people are unaware of how much their hearing has changed.
But hearing loss makes communication very difficult and can impact your work, especially if you are involved in a lot of meetings or speak on the phone regularly. Hearing loss can even affect relationships because friends and family members may think that you are ignoring them.
There is also a lot of evidence to suggest that hearing loss contributes to cognitive decline and can be a big risk factor in conditions such as dementia.
Having hearing aids fitted by a professional hearing instrument specialist will help to alleviate all of these issues. Social situations will be far easier to navigate because your hearing aids will pick out and amplify voices, even in places with lots of background noise. Reduced strain on your hearing will also slow down hearing loss in later life.
Although hearing aids are designed to improve your ability to hear clearly, they do so much more than that. Hearing loss has far reaching effects on your overall quality of life, but when you get fitted with hearing aids, you will notice a significant difference. As long as you seek the advice of a hearing instrument specialist, they will be able to help you select the perfect set of hearing aids with the right features to fit your lifestyle.
If you suspect that you may need hearing aids, get in touch with the Nu-Life Hearing Centre at (855) 867-7449 to learn more about how we can help you.