Did you know that about 1.5 billion people worldwide experience some degree of hearing loss? According to the World Health Organization, this number is estimated to rise to 2.5 billion by 2050.
Hearing loss can impact your life in numerous ways as it interferes with your personal and work life. But fortunately, electronic devices such as hearing aids can make a massive difference, provided you pick the right one. But how does it work, and which type is best for you? Let us learn more.
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How Do Hearing Aids Work?
Hearing aids are small devices that are worn in or behind their ears. They amplify the sound, allowing people with hearing loss to hear the sounds around them more clearly. Unfortunately, hearing aids cannot restore natural hearing ability. But they’re suitable for increasing the volume of environmental sounds.
All hearing aids carry sound and amplify it into the ear for better hearing. These electronic devices come with a hearing aid battery and a small microphone for collecting sound from the environment.
- The computer chip with an amplifier converts incoming sounds into a digital code.
- Next, it analyses and adjusts the sound based on the degree of hearing loss and listening needs.
- Finally, it converts the amplified signals into sound waves and delivers them to the ears through speakers called receivers.
People who have sustained damage to their sensory cells in the inner ears can also use hearing aids to magnify sound vibrations entering the ear.
How Hearing Aids Help
Hearing aids are powered by batteries, which means you don’t have to charge them daily. Moreover, they are small enough to fit in or behind your ears. Thus they are comfortable and help you hear better even if the ambient sound is low.
Types of Hearing Aids
There are different hearing aids available, and each one has special features.
The five primary types of hearing aids are the following.
- In-the-canal (ITC)
- In-the-ear (ITE)
- Behind-the-ear (BTE)
- Receiver-in-canal (RIC)
- Completely-in-canal (CIC)
In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aid is suitable for mild to moderate hearing loss. It fits perfectly into the ear canal and is less visible in the ear. It is custom molded to fit better, but the speaker is susceptible to getting clogged by earwax.
If you want a small hearing device, the in-the-canal type is perfect.
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In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aid has two styles. One of them fills most of your ear’s outer bowl-shaped area, called a full shell. The other fills only the lower part, called the half shell.
Both types of ITE devices are helpful as they are custom-made to fit your ear perfectly. They also come with directional microphones for improved hearing.
This type of hearing aid uses larger rechargeable batteries, and they’re relatively easier to handle.
However, they are not as discreet as other smaller devices. Also, these aren’t suitable for mild hearing loss as they also amplify extremely low sounds such as the wind.
Behind-the-ear (BTE) is a device that rests behind your ear as it hooks over the ear top. A custom earpiece known as an earmold fits the ear canal, and a tube connects it to the hearing aid.
The BTE device is suitable for all types of hearing loss. In fact, it is the largest type of hearing device available. You may find some mini versions of this device, but they’re traditionally larger and more visible.
It features directional microphones and is capable of more amplification. But it may also pick up low sounds which could get annoying.
The receiver-in-canal (RIC) is similar to a behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aid as it consists of a receiver that stays in your ear canal.
Instead of tubing, a tiny wire connects the sitting piece to the speaker or receiver. This type of hearing aid has a less visible behind-the-ear piece. It also features directional microphones and comes with manual control options.
The completely-in-the-canal (CIC) hearing device fits your ear canal to improve mild to moderate hearing loss. But since it is molded to fit inside the ear, the speakers are susceptible to clogging by ear wax. CIC is the smallest hearing device. Thus it is the least visible.
Moreover, it doesn’t pick up wind noise, so CIC is just what you need if you’re looking for something less visible and comfortable.
But most types of CIC do not include a directional microphone or additional features such as volume control.
Getting Used to a Hearing Aid
It takes time for people to get used to hearing devices as your own voice sounds different to you when you wear a hearing aid. But once you become accustomed to the sound amplification, your listening skills certainly improve.
Remember to insist on a good fit to avoid discomfort. Consult your audiologist if you experience problems such as background noise, buzzing, echo-like sounds, etc. You can visit House of Hearing for any kind of solution.