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A new set of hearing aids can bring your world to life in new ways, introducing you to a spectrum of sound you might have forgotten existed. When we lose our hearing, it tends to go in the higher frequency ranges, and we lose the ability to hear quiet sounds first. In combination, these features of hearing loss mean that we might not be able to hear voices in a conversation or the subtle sounds that make the sonic world so enjoyable, such as the chirp of birds, the buzz of insects during the summer, or children laughing at a playground. Welcome back to the world of full-spectrum hearing! Now that you have your new devices, you might be curious about the different features, styles, and components of a hearing aid making it work so well. The following are some basics of hearing aids to help you understand what is going on behind the scenes.
Hearing Aid Components
The components of hearing aids are each essential to functioning, and all four must work in concert to make them deliver the right sounds to your ears when you need them most. The first component is a microphone, capturing the sounds of the world. This tiny microphone is powerful enough to direct quiet sounds to your ears but it is also inundated with loud sounds at the same time. For this reason, the next component—a computer—is necessary in the latest hearing aid models. The computer transforms the sounds that are captured by the microphone into sounds that are appropriate for your hearing. The next component is an amplifier, necessary to take the digital sound profile transformed in the computer into something audible. The final component, the speaker, takes that amplified sound signal and boosts it to the right level for your personal needs.
Hearing Aid Types
The different types of hearing aids are categorized according to the placement of these components within the units. Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids have a unit that sits above or behind the hearing aid as a hook or as a distinct compartment that is attached via a tiny tube to the rest of the components. In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids come as a single compartment that sits in the curvature of the outer ear. These hearing aids tend to be visible to the eye, though they are often skin-toned to make them blend into the color of the skin. In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids are much smaller, and they rest entirely in the canal of the ear, making them less visible and fully contained in the ear canal. Completely-in-the-canal (CITC) hearing aids are the tiniest yet, using a single unit that is completely invisible from sight within the ear canal. Each of these hearing aid styles comes with its own profile of benefits and detriments, and the model suited to one person may not be right for another. For example, a person with dexterity issues in the hands may not want a CITC unit because it may be difficult to take in and out of the ears. However, a person who does not want to have the hearing aid visible to an onlooker might prefer this style for its invisibility and sleek appearance.
Hearing Aid Features
The number of features available in hearing aids continues to grow with the vast amount of research and development being invested in new technology. Some of the latest hearing aid models include Bluetooth compatibility, making it possible to stream music directly to the units and to hearing the phone ringing or other Smartphone notification within the hearing aids themselves. Some of these units can be synced with the television or other media devices to keep the general volume low in the room while being able to hear everything that is going on. Speech recognition technology is quickly advancing, as well. New hearing aids make it possible to discern the voice of a person speaking to you in a loud room full of other voices, one of the functions that was frustrating in the past. Some hearing aids are even waterproof, making it possible to hear clearly while swimming. The list of new features goes on and on, so be sure to mention some of the special ways you would like to use your hearing aids during your consultation.
Professional Hearing Services
If you’ve noticed changes in your hearing, it is important to take a hearing test. At Professional Hearing Services, we provide comprehensive hearing health services, from hearing tests to hearing aid fittings. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.