A hearing aid is a small electronic device that is worn behind the ear to amplify some sounds, making it easier for a person with hearing loss to hear and communicate. A hearing aid is made up of three basic parts: a microphone, amplifier and speaker. The microphone receives the sound and sends the converted sound waves to the amplifier. The amplifier then increases the "volume" of the signals and sends them through the speaker.
People who suffer from sensorineural hearing loss, can benefit from hearing aids. Sensorineural hearing loss occurs when the small sensory cells of the ear are damaged from aging, disease or an injury from certain medicines or noise.
A hearing aid amplifies the sound vibrations entering the ear. The extent of the damage to the sensory cells determines how much amplification is needed to enhance a person's ability to hear. However, there are realistic limits to the level of magnification a hearing aid can provide. If the inner ear has suffered an extensive amount of damage, large vibrations will not be able to be converted into neural signs, making a hearing aid ineffective.
Types of Hearing Aids
While hearing aids may differ in style, size, placement and degree of magnification, there are three basic types of hearing aids.
- Behind the Ear (BTE) hearing aids are comprised of a hard plastic case that is worn behind the ear and connected to a plastic earmold fitting inside the outer ear. BTE's are good for people of all ages with mild to significant hearing loss.
- In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids are made of hard plastic and fits completely inside the outer part of the ear. ITE's are used for adults with mild to severe hearing loss.
- Canal hearing aids fit into the ear canal. There are two types of Canal Hearing Aids: the in-the-canal (ITC), which is custom-made to fit the person's ear canal; and the completely-in-canal (CIC), which is virtually hidden in the ear canal.
Hearing aids differ in the type of electronics used as well. There are analog hearing aids that convert sound waves into electrical signals to be amplified and digital hearing aids that convert sound waves into numerical codes to be amplified. Analog hearing aids can be programmed by an audiologist and be changed by the user for different listening environments. Digital hearing aids can be programmed to amplify some frequencies more than others, allowing more flexibility for the user.
Our audiologists will work with you individually to determine which type of hearing aid will work best for you. After you've chosen your hearing aid device, we will demonstrate how you should use it on a daily basis.