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Hearing Aids - Different Types and How They Work

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Hearing Aids - Different Types and How They Work

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A hearing aid can be used to improve hearing in people with hearing loss. In this article, learn about the types, uses, and how to use hearing aids properly.

Written by

Dr. Preetha. J

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Rajat Agarwal

Published At July 22, 2021
Reviewed AtApril 25, 2023


Several pathological conditions can cause hearing loss. Some of the conditions can be treated by surgery, depending on the disease. Hearing aids are used primarily for improving the hearing and speech comprehension of people who have hearing loss due to damage to the small sensory cells in the inner ear. However, chronic sensorineural hearing loss due to damaged cochlear structures needs rehabilitation by improving the amplification.

What Is A Hearing Aid?

A hearing aid is a small device used to improve hearing in people whose hearing is impaired. It will fit inside or outside the ear and will make the sound louder. In this, the hearing aid receives the sound through a microphone, and it converts the sound waves into electrical waves. These electrical waves are sent to the amplifier, which increases the power of the waves and sends it to the ear through a speaker.

Types of Hearing Aids:

The three types of hearing aids:

1. Behind The Ear- It connects the hearing aid to the earmold.

2. Inside The Ear- It is custom made, and it is of two types, like a full shell and a half shell.

3. Completely In The Canal - It is less visible, and it can fit perfectly inside your canal. But sometimes, the ear wax may clog the speaker.

4. In The Canal - It partly fits inside the canal, and it is customized. It can improve hearing from mild to moderate.

5. Receiver In The Canal - It is similar to the behind-the-ear hearing aid.

6. Open Fit - It is the right choice for people with low-frequency hearing.

Mechanism of Hearing Aid:

There are two mechanisms on which the hearing aid works:

  1. Analog: It is less expensive than a digital hearing aid. It converts the sound waves into an electrical signal and then amplifies it and sends it through a speaker to the ear. It is a programmable hearing aid where the settings can be changed in a computer, and we can also change the programs according to the different kinds of environments like small to big crowds. It can be used in all types of hearing aids. It is an adjustable hearing aid that can be customized according to the needs of the user.

  2. Digital: It is quite expensive than an analog hearing aid. It focuses on the sound coming from any specific direction. In this, it converts the sound waves into a numerical code before amplifying it. The digital circuitry can be adjusted according to the user's needs and listening environment. It can be used in all types of hearing aid.

  3. Additional features are added to the hearing aids like:

  • Directional microphones.

  • Rechargeable batteries.

  • Wireless connectivity.

  • Remote controls.

  • Telecoils.

  • Direct audio input.

  • Synchronization.

  • Variable programming.

  • Noise reduction.

Parts of the Hearing Aid:

  1. Microphones.

  2. Mini-chip.

  3. Receiver.

  4. Battery.

  5. Volume control.

Types of Hearing Loss:

  • Sensorineural hearing loss is commonly caused due to aging, overexposure to noise, viral infection, shingles, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, acoustic tumors, elevated body temperature, or meningitis.

  • Conductive hearing loss can be caused due to infection of the ear canal, perforation of the eardrum, wax buildup, abnormal tumor growth in the canal, and foreign body in the canal.

  • Mixed type.

Techniques for Using Hearing Aids:

An audiologist can select the correct hearing aid according to your need and necessity. Only if you maintain the hearing aid properly, will it be beneficial to you, and its life will be extended. You should follow a few techniques to get used to it and maintain it.

1. How to Adjust Yourself With Your Hearing Aid?

It will take time for you to adapt to your new hearing aid. However, practicing and using it regularly can help you out. With the help of your audiologist, you can practice how to put it in and take out your hearing aid, how to clean, how to differentiate between the right and the left side, and how to change the batteries. Clarify all your doubts and make the necessary adjustments until you are satisfied with your aid. While using a hearing aid, keep in mind that your hearing will not return to normal, but it can only improve your hearing. It will take time to adapt to your new hearing aid, but you will quickly get used to it when you use it regularly. Practice using it in different situations or environments. Have a follow-up with the audiologist to know about the new hearing aids available in the market.

2. How to Care for Your Hearing Aid?

To take proper care of the hearing aid, you should,

  • Always keep it away from moisture and heat.

  • The hearing aid should be cleaned regularly from all earwax and drainage from the ear.

  • Hairspray or hair care products should not be used while wearing hearing aids.

  • Switch off hearing aids when not in use.

  • Dead batteries should be changed immediately.

  • Replaced batteries and small aids should be kept away from children.

3. What Are The Difficulties In Using Hearing Aids?

  • In the initial period, some people may feel uncomfortable while using the hearing aid.

  • The user's voice may sound louder inside their head, and this is called the occlusion effect.

  • Some whistling sounds can be heard due to the hearing aid.

  • The hearing aid will not separate the sound you want to hear and do not want to hear.

  • People may hear some buzzing sound in the hearing aid when taken near cell phones due to cell phone's radio frequency interference.

4. How to Carefully Place a Hearing Aid?

  1. First, wash your hands.

  2. The hearing aid should be turned off, and the volume should be low while wearing the hearing aid.

  3. The ear-mold should fit appropriately to your ear; if not, should reshape it according to your ear.

  4. Place the earmold inside the ear, push it forward slightly and place it in the canal.

  5. Then press the earmold by slightly rotating it backward to snugly and comfortably in your ear.

Frequently Asked Questions


What Is the Use of Hearing Aids?

People with hearing loss can use hearing aids to enhance their hearing. Hearing aids may include useful features in various communication contexts, such as speaking in noisy environments that may be made easier by a directional microphone. They boost sound coming from one direction more than sound coming from other directions.


What Are the Types of Hearing Aids?

There are numerous hearing aid design options, including the following: 
- Completely in the canal.
- In the canal.
- Inside the ear.
- Behind the ear.
- Receiver in the canal.
- Open fit.


How To Determine the Type of Required Hearing Aid?

Ask the doctor for a recommendation if one does not already know a reliable audiologist. An audiologist will examine the hearing, advise the best hearing aid to use, and make necessary adjustments to the device.


What Should One Know Before Purchasing a Hearing Aid?

Before purchasing a hearing aid:
- Get a checkup. Consult a medical professional to rule out treatable causes of hearing loss, such as earwax or an infection.
- Consult a reputable audiologist.
- Inquire about a free trial.
- Consider upcoming requirements.
- Examine the warranty.
- Watch out for false claims.
- Prepare for the cost.


Which Is the Best Hearing Aid for Old Age?

Comparatively, analog hearing aids are much simpler than digital ones. The sound waves are transformed into an electrical signal by them. They simply increase their volume. They are among the best options for seniors because they have simple and easy to use.


What Is the Latest Hearing Aid Technology?

The most recent advancement in hearing loss technology is artificial intelligence in hearing aids. The most recent hearing aids can comprehend the environment and adjust accordingly, learning as they go. Technology advancements have made hearing aids more automatic and added a variety of unique features that allow people who have hearing loss to interact with their environment through vibrating or flashing lights. Recently, smoke detectors, doorbells, and alarm sounds have all been added to hearing aids.


What Are the Disadvantages of Using Hearing Aids?

The disadvantages of hearing aids include:
- Not necessarily suitable for hearing loss that is more severe than mild to moderate.
- The function may be impacted by perspiration.
- Very little manual control.


What Is the Typical Lifespan of Hearing Aids?

Three to seven years is the typical lifespan of a hearing aid; for some people, it may even be longer. The quality of the instrument's design, how well it is maintained, and the amount of wear and tear it endures while being worn in the ear for several hours each day are all factors that affect its lifespan.


Do Hearing Aids Enhance the Volume or Clarity of Sounds?

It amplifies some sounds so that a person with hearing loss can listen, communicate, and take part in daily activities to a greater extent. In addition, cutting down on competing background noise allows for a clearer speech signal when there is one. The ability to amplify sounds is a feature shared by all hearing aids, but digital hearing aids with digital signal processing capabilities can enhance sound clarity more effectively than analog hearing aids.


Does One Need to Use a Hearing Aid All Day Long?

One might think it is unnecessary to wear hearing aids all day when alone in the home. Audiologists advise against leaving the devices unworn for extended periods of time. In fact, regardless of where or how one spends their time, one should wear them constantly throughout the day. The only times one should not wear hearing aids are while sleeping, taking a shower, getting their hair done, going swimming, or when the noise level is too high.


Can a Hearing Aid Reverse Hearing Loss?

Except in cases where hearing loss is caused by conditions like infections or earwax, there is no medical cure or treatment that can restore or restore hearing. Although hearing loss cannot be "reversed," hearing aids can help one hear better overall.


How Frequently Should Hearing Aids Be Cleaned?

Hearing aids work best when they are properly maintained, just like any other electronic device. This entails cleaning them every day to help get rid of the sweat, earwax, dirt, and other debris that tends to collect inside the receivers and the microphones.
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Dr. Rajat Agarwal
Dr. Rajat Agarwal

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery


hearing loss
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