Hearing aid technology is improving all the time, with innovative improvements being designed within them to enhance the hearing experience of wearers. But the basic parts of a hearing aid which allows them to work consists of:
- A microphone
- An amplifier (Which is more commonly a computer chip in modern hearing aids)
- A speaker
This is how hearing aids work:
Sound is received by the hearing aid microphone. The microphone then converts the sound waves into electric signals that are sent to the amplifier. The amplifier increases the strength of these signals and sends them to the ear through the speaker.
Hearing aids are particularly effective in improving hearing and speech comprehension for people with hearing loss as a result of damage to the small sensory cells (hair cells) in the inner ear – known as sensorineural hearing loss.
Because the hearing aid magnifies sound vibrations entering the ear, the surviving hair cells can detect this magnification and convert the sound vibrations into neural signals that are passed along to the brain.
The amount of amplification required varies depending on the level of a person’s hearing loss. In cases of very severe hearing loss or inner ear damage it may be the case that even the greatest levels of amplification that are possible for a hearing aid will be ineffective.
But we no longer stop there. Hearing aids are now essentially computers in your ears, further than that they are wireless, transmitting, Bluetooth enabled computers. So a pair of hearing aids are no longer working separately, but sharing information with each other to help you hear more effectively. They can be connected to your mobile phone, so you can take phone calls, stream music and control the aids via an app on your smartphone. We can even send the sound of the TV straight into your hearing aids – essentially turning your hearing aids into a pair of wireless headphones!