What Are Hearing Aids?
Hearing aids are devices that amplify sound frequencies that the wearer cannot hear properly. The most common type is a Receiver in Canal, or "RIC." It fits discretely behind the ear and has a clear wire that leads to the ear canal. These are popular because they are convenient and are easily repaired by a hearing professional. There are also hearing aids that fit into the ear canal, either with a specialized dome or a custom-molded shell. These are usually worn by people who want to minimize the hearing aid's visibility or by people who have a more profound hearing loss.
All hearing aids have a few basic parts. The microphone is what detects the sounds that are amplified. Some are more complex than others, and most modern hearing aids have at least two microphones. The speaker is where the sound comes out. On RIC hearing aids, the speaker is on the end of a clear tube with a very thin wire. This piece is called a receiver. The dome is a silicone earbud that fits onto the end of the receiver. Domes come in various shapes and sizes that accommodate a wide variety of hearing losses and ear canal shapes. There is also a sound processor, which helps the hearing aid differentiate between ambient noises and speech.
Benefits of Wearing Hearing Aids
Hearing aids are primarily helpful for improving the hearing and speech comprehension of people who have hearing loss that results from damage to the small sensory cells in the inner ear, called hair cells. This type of impairment is known as sensorineural hearing loss. The damage can occur as a result of disease, aging, injury from noise, or certain medicines.
The benefits of wearing a hearing aid are endless. Over time, a person's hearing loss worsens. As this happens, the world gradually changes. People forget about all the important nuances to hearing, such as how important it is to hear your own voice when talking or to hear a car's turn signal clicking. The brain forgets how to process certain sounds, usually the high-pitched sounds like "sh, ck, or ch." Words like "ham" may sound identical to "Sam." This makes verbal communication quite challenging, whether in a meeting with an important client or talking to loved ones.
It's important to start wearing hearing aids before this occurs, if possible. Hearing aids to not cure hearing loss, and even with proper amplification and fine-tuning from an audiologist, the brain may never fully recover the ability to differentiate sounds it has forgotten how to process. Still, we may be able to prevent the problem from worsening. If you think you have a hearing loss, whether or not it is having a profound impact on your everyday life, it is a good idea to schedule an exam. Establish a baseline and discuss your options with a hearing professional.
Now that you've learned a bit about hearing aids, let's talk about the different hearing aid styles!
Heard enough about how hearing aids work? Take a look at some of the hearing aids that we offer