A hearing aid is an electronic device that is worn behind or within the ear canal. Through battery power, the hearing aid is able to amplify sound so that a person with hearing loss is able to better hear their surroundings.
Hearing aids are built with four basic parts: the microphone, the processor, the receiver, and the battery.
The microphone captures the natural sound surrounding the hearing aid user. Microphones can be either directional, picking up sound in front of the wearer, or omni directional, where sound is captured from every direction. When a microphone captures sound, it is converted to a digital message and sent to the processor.
The processor reads the microphone’s digital message and customizes what is amplified. After programming by a hearing healthcare professional, the processor will be able to enhance speech recognition, amplify certain sounds, cancel feedback and eliminate background noise. A hearing aid’s quality is determined by its processing abilities as it is able to be customized to benefit the unique needs of the user.
The receiver carries a soundwave from the processor to the earpiece where sounds are amplified. The hearing aid alters sounds in the environment to be clearer and more recognizable by the user. Hearing healthcare professionals are able to fit earpieces comfortably in the user’s ear to further ensure the highest quality of sound.
The battery keeps the hearing aid on and functioning. Depending on the hearing aid style and capabilities, disposable batteries can last anywhere from 3-20 days. Rechargeable batteries were created to be powered throughout the day after an overnight charge. More on batteries is discussed in the battery section.
More information regarding styles of hearing aids can be found at “Types of Hearing Aids”
Cochlear implants are designed to replace the function of healthy sensory cells in the inner ear and restore access to the sounds one is missing using electrical impulses to transmit sound through the inner ear to the hearing nerve.
Who can benefit from a cochlear implant?
For adults, cochlear implants help those with moderate to profound hearing loss in both ears who are not receiving enough benefit when using hearing aids.
Cochlear implants are approved for children 12 months and older with severe to profound hearing loss in both ears.