Getting to Know Your Hearing Aids

November 17, 2020

Getting to Know Your Hearing Aids
 
Dr. Darcy Benson
Latest posts by Dr. Darcy Benson (see all)

If you have recently purchased new hearing aids, congratulations on taking such an important step to improve your health! Hearing aids are an important investment that impacts how you navigate your daily life. 

Similar to most electronics today, hearing aids have experienced significant innovation over the years. Smaller than ever, these devices have such a range of options that have various features and technologies designed to easily integrate with your life. Hearing aids have more capacity, helping to maximize your hearing in different environments and while engaging in an array of activities. It is important to take the time to get familiar with your hearing aids – all components and settings so you can get the best use out of them. 

Let’s explore the most common types of hearing aids, their parts, and the functions you can expect!

 

Understanding How Hearing Aids Work

Hearing aids consist of different components that work together to absorb and process sound. All hearing aids have four basic parts:  

  • Microphone: collects all of the sound in the environment you are in and converts those soundwaves into electrical signals. 
  • Amplifier: strengthens (amplifies) those signals and in hearing aids that are more advanced, the amplifier can manipulate these signals to a person’s hearing preferences. 
  • Receiver: also referred to as the speaker, converts the electrical signals back into sound and sends it to the inner ear. 

The fourth component is the power supply (i.e. rechargeable batteries). All hearing aid types and sizes are composed of these basic mechanics. 

 

Hearing Aid Types 

There are numerous brands, styles, and models of hearing aids and it can be difficult to sift through and understand. The key thing to know here is that there are two major types of hearing aids: 

  • In the Ear (ITE): worn in the ear and usually involves taking a custom mold of your ear so that the device fits. 
  • Behind the Ear (BTE): worn behind or on top of the outer ear. These devices are connected (through a small, clear tube) to an ear piece that sits in the ear canal. 

These types of hearing aids also have common styles 

  • ITE
  • Invisible in the canal (IIC) & Completely in the canal (CIC) – are the smallest and least visible hearing aids that are available. They are made using an earmold to fit perfectly in the ear canal. IIC hearing aids are made to be further in the ear than CIC types.  
  • In the ear canal (ITC): these types of hearing aids are placed in the bowl of the lower portion of the outer ear. This means that they are larger and also more visible than other types of hearing aids. 
  • BTE
  • Receiver in the ear (RITE): this style involves the speaker sitting in the ear canal. A wire connects the speaker to the microphone and processor which rest behind the ear. 

There are types of hearing aids that may be better suited for your individual hearing needs. Some of these styles work better for people experiencing specific types of hearing loss – high vs. low frequency hearing loss for example. Our team is equipped with the knowledge to discuss which types of hearing aids would better meet your hearing needs. 

 

Digital Hearing Aids

Innovations in digital processing drastically changed the hearing aid industry. Digital hearing aids have the capacity to manipulate the sound you absorb and make changes that are more aligned with your specific hearing needs. There are settings that can be programmed which tune the incoming sound to best suit your hearing. So, if you struggle with specific sounds and/or frequencies, your hearing aids can be adjusted to account for it. Other benefits include: 

  • Reducing background noise and feedback, which sharpens sound quality 
  • Analyze your environment and switch to a different setting that is more optimal 
  • Enhanced voice recognition so your voice sounds more natural and less distorted 

Additionally, digital hearing aids can have features like wireless connectivity which uses Bluetooth technology. This allows your hearing aids to wirelessly connect with other electronic devices (smartphone, speaker, laptop etc.) and stream the audio directly to your device; enhancing the quality of sound.  

Whether you are in the market for new hearing aids or if you need assistance with your current pair, we are here to help! Contact us today.