Have you ever had problems hearing in a congested room or restaurant but can hear just fine at home? Do you have particular trouble hearing higher-pitched voices or TV dialogue?
If yes, you may have hearing loss, and hearing aids might be able to help.
But how exactly do hearing aids work? Are they simple amplifiers, or something more complicated?
This week we’ll be evaluating how hearing aids work and how they are a great deal more advanced than many people recognize. But first, let’s begin with how normal hearing works.
How Normal Hearing Works
The hearing process starts with sound. Sound is essentially a type of energy that travels in waves, like ripples in a lake. Things generate sound in the environment when they produce vibrations in the air, and those vibrations are ultimately caught and transmitted to the ear canal by the outer ear.
After moving through the ear canal, the sound vibrations strike the eardrum. The eardrum then vibrates, creating and amplifying the original signal which is then transmitted by the middle ear bones to the snail-shaped organ of the middle ear named the cochlea.
The cochlea is full of fluid and tiny nerve cells known as cilia. The vibrations transmitted from the middle ear bones shake the fluid and stimulate the cilia. The cilia then transmit electrical signals to the brain and the brain interprets the signals as sound.
With most cases of noise-induced hearing loss, there is injury to the cilia. So, the inbound signal to the brain is compromised and sounds seem softer or muffled. But not all frequencies are uniformly weakened. Frequently, the higher-pitched sounds, including speech, are impacted to a greater extent.
In a noisy setting, like a restaurant, your capacity to hear speech is reduced because your brain is acquiring a compromised signal for high-frequency sounds. On top of that, background noise, which is low-frequency, is getting through normally, drowning out the speech.
How Hearing Aids Can Help
You can understand that the solution is not simply amplifying all sound. If you were to do that, you’d just continue drowning out speech as the background noise becomes louder in relation to the speech sounds.
The solution is selective amplification of only the sound frequencies you have trouble hearing. And that is only feasible by having your hearing professionally evaluated and your hearing aids professionally programmed to amplify these select frequencies.
How Hearing Aids Precisely Amplify Sound
Today’s hearing aids contain five interior parts: the microphone, amplifier, speaker, battery, and computer chip. But hearing aids are not just basic amplifiers—they’re sophisticated electronic devices that modify the characteristics of sound.
This occurs by way of the computer chip. Everyone’s hearing is unique, like a fingerprint, and therefore the frequencies you need amplified will differ. The incredible part is, those frequencies can be ascertained exactly with a professional hearing test, technically known as an audiogram.
Once your hearing professional has these figures, your hearing aid can be programmed to amplify the frequencies you have the most difficulty with, strengthening speech recognition in the process.
Here’s how it works: the hearing aid receives sound in the environment with the microphone and transfers the sound to the computer chip. The computer chip then translates the sound into digital information so that it can differentiate between assorted frequencies.
Then, dependent on the programmed settings, the high-frequency sounds are enhanced, the low-frequency background sounds are repressed, and the improved sound is delivered to your ear via the speaker.
So will your hearing go back perfectly to normal?
While your hearing will not completely return to normal, that shouldn’t stop you from accomplishing substantial gains in your hearing. For nearly all people, the amplification supplied is all they require to comprehend speech and partake in productive and effortless communication.
Think of it in this way. If your eye doctor told you they could enhance your vision from 20/80 to 20/25, would you forgo prescription glasses because you couldn’t get to 20/20? Absolutely not; you’d be able to function perfectly with 20/25 vision and the improvement from 20/80 would be substantial.
Are you ready to see the gains you can attain with contemporary hearing aids? Call us today!