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Understanding Hearing Aids: How They Work and Your Choices

December 18, 2015

Hearing aids are effective in improving the hearing of people who have sensorineural hearing loss—a form of hearing loss caused by damage to the sensory cells in the inner ear, also called hair cells. Sensorineural hearing loss can happen as a result of disease, aging, use of certain medicines, or injury from a loud noise. An audiogram will determine if you have hearing loss and if getting a hearing aid should be your next step. Learn more about hearing aids, how they work to improve hearing, and the different types available.

How Hearing Aids Work
Hearing aids help people hear in both quiet and noisy situations, making it easier to communicate, listen, and participate in daily activities. But according to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), only about one in five people who could benefit from a hearing aid actually use one.

Simply put, a hearing aid magnifies sound vibrations, aiding the surviving hair cells in doing their job. Hearing aids are made up of three basic parts that work together to achieve this. A microphone receives the sound and converts the sound waves into electrical signals. An amplifier receives the electrical signals and increases the power of them. Finally, a speaker receives the amplified signals, allowing a person to better hear.

However, in some cases the damage to a person’s hair cells may be so great that even a hearing aid cannot help make up the difference, in which case a hearing aid would not be effective.

Types of Hearing Aids
  • Behind-the-ear (BTE) – BTE aids consist of a hard plastic case containing the electronic components which is worn behind the ear and connects to a plastic earmold that fits inside the ear, allowing sound to travel from the case through the earmold and into the ear. There are also some models of BTE aids that fit only behind the ear, with just a narrow tube inserted into the ear canal. BTE aids are used for people with mild to profound hearing loss.
  • In-the-ear (ITE) – ITE aids fit completely inside the outer ear and are made of hard plastic. Some ITE aids contain a telecoil, which is a magnetic coil that allows a person to receive sound through the electronic circuitry instead of through a microphone. In this case, sound is heard more easily over a telephone or in public places with special sound systems. ITE aids are used for people with mild to severe hearing loss.
  • Canal aids – This type of hearing aid fits into the ear canal through one of two styles: one that is fitted to the size and shape of a person’s ear canal, or one that is nearly hidden completely in the ear canal. These small aids are more difficult to adjust and remove, and their reduced size limits their power and volume. Canal aids are used for people with mild to moderately severe hearing loss.
If you’ve received your hearing test results and are interested in taking the next step, contact Resonance Hearing Aids today and check out our selection of products.