It’s an outdated perception amongst many that hearing loss is an inevitable and untreatable part of the ageing process. Yet, the overwhelming majority of us think hearing is important to our overall quality of life (The State of Hearing Report, 2018).
Hearing aids are the most common technology option for many types of hearing losses, and understanding how they work can go a long way in making an informed decision about the benefits and whether they’re right for you.
Hearing aids are built to amplify your existing hearing, and when worn consistently, can help to actively stop the further deterioration of your hearing by keeping your brain’s auditory pathways stimulated.
Main components of a digital hearing aid
Microphone: the microphone picks up sounds or speech from the surrounding environment, and converts these sound waves into electrical signals, which are then sent to the amplifier.
Amplifier: a computer chip dedicated to increasing the power or volume of the electrical signals received, which in turn improves speech and sound quality; the amplifier can also filter speech from background noise to improve understanding. These improved signals are converted back to electrical impulses and sent onto the receiver/speaker component. The more severe the hearing loss, the more amplification is required.
Receiver/speaker: depending on the style of hearing aid, this may sit internally or externally on the aid; the receiver/speaker converts the amplified electrical signals back into sounds, and these are sent directly into the ear where the natural hearing process through the inner ear and brain takes over.
Battery: the power source; this may be a replaceable battery, or a built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery depending on the style of hearing aid.
For Hear and Say client, John Swete Kelly, his hearing aids fitted through Hear and Say reopened a world of sounds that had started to slip away.
“It has made a huge difference to be able to fully engage again and be involved in the conversation around a table or out on the road, rather than switch out of it because I couldn’t hear the full story,” said John.
“There is still an element of stigma around about wearing hearing aids, but I would strongly recommend that people do take the opportunity to get their hearing tested. Hearing aids now are so small, easy fitted, colour-coordinated if desired and there’s no discomfort in any way – there are multiple options to suit everyone’s preferred style, design and solution. Once you find out about it, it’s quite amazing.”