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How do hearing aids work?

Reading Time: 5 minutes
"by " Albert Stein
03/24/2020

Have you ever wondered how hearing aids actually work? 

Hearing aids are devices which help those with hearing loss to hear better. They are high-tech devices which are wore behind or inside the ear. They amplify surrounding sounds so that the hearing aid user can experience and interpret the sounds around them. Simultaneously, they work to balance all sounds so that sounds closer to the hearing aids are louder than background noises. 

There are three parts that make up a hearing aid: a speaker, an amplifier, and a microphone. Sounds are received through the microphone, which then converts sound waves to electrical signals. Next, these electrical signals are sent to the amplifier. The amplifier then increases these sounds using the power from these electrical signals. The sounds are sent into the ear through the speaker. 

  • The microphone picks up surrounding sounds 

  • The processing chip analyzes sounds

  • Sounds are sent to the amplifier 

  • Amplified sounds are then sent to the speaker 

  • Sounds are sent from the speaker into the inner ear

  • In the inner ear, sounds are turned into electrical impulses

  • Impulses are picked up by the brain where they are processed1

 
Hearing aids come in both “digital” and “analog” form. However, digital hearing aids are recommended as they deliver better results than analog hearing aids. While analog hearing aids simply amplify sound, digital hearing aids convert sound into specific numerical codes; these codes provide more detailed information about the sound’s properties, such as pitch, direction, and sound volume. This information makes it easier for the hearing aid user to adjust the sound to fit their needs. Most digital hearing aids also have the extra benefit of adjusting automatically to the nature of the sound environment so that the user hears the noises which are most important to them.

Digital technology has revolutionized the hearing aid industry with the introduction of complex signal processing algorithms which in turn allow for previously unmet customer needs to be met2,3. 

  • Improved social engagement

  • Little to no feedback / whistling sounds

  • Less wind noises

  • Less background noises

  • Tinnitus-relief sound options

  • Better quality of life

  • Improved communication 

  • Clearer tones / sounds

  • Natural sound quality

  • The reduction of unnecessary sounds

  • The possibility to hear soft sounds

  • The reduction of chewing / swallowing sounds while eating and drinking

  • The ability for the hearing aid to “focus” on the sounds that are closest to you4,5 

 

New hearing aid technologies have improved the hearing aid user’s experience in relation to sound quality and sound processing. Digital hearing aid technology is expected to continue to develop and further improve customer benefits in the process. 

If you want to learn more about hearing aids or how you can try them for yourself, book an appointment with your local hearing care expert.  



1. https://www.oticon.com/your-hearing/hearing-health/how-do-hearing-aids-work
2. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing-aids
3. https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/hearing-aids#1
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4111503/
5. MarkeTrak 10, Marketing Research, Inc.