How Digital Hearing Aids Work

Closeup of hearing aids in ear

Have you ever had difficulty hearing in a congested room or restaurant but can hear without any problem at home? Do you have particular challenges hearing higher-pitched voices or TV dialogue?

If yes, you might have hearing loss, and hearing aids might be able to help.

But how exactly do hearing aids work? Are they basic amplifiers, or something more complicated?

This week we’ll be looking into 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 pond. Things generate sound in the environment when they trigger vibrations in the air, and those vibrations are eventually caught and sent to the ear canal by the outer ear.

Just after passing through the ear canal, the sound vibrations strike the eardrum. The eardrum then vibrates, creating and amplifying the original signal which is then transferred by the middle ear bones to the snail-shaped organ of the middle ear referred to as the cochlea.

The cochlea is filled with fluid and tiny nerve cells called cilia. The vibrations sent 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 damage to the cilia. As a result, the arriving signal to the brain is weaker and sounds appear quieter or muffled. But not all frequencies are uniformly impaired. Frequently, the higher-pitched sounds, including speech, are affected to a greater extent.

In a raucous setting, like a restaurant, your capacity to hear speech is diminished because your brain is acquiring a diminished 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 merely amplifying all sound. If you were to do that, you’d just continue drowning out speech as the background noise grows to be louder relative 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 tested and your hearing aids professionally programmed to magnify these specific frequencies.

How Hearing Aids Precisely Amplify Sound

Contemporary hearing aids consist of five internal parts: the microphone, amplifier, speaker, battery, and computer chip. But hearing aids are not just basic amplifiers—they’re intricate electronic devices that modify the properties of sound.

This happens via the computer chip. Everyone’s hearing is one-of-a-kind, like a fingerprint, and so the frequencies you need amplified will vary. The incredible part is, those frequencies can be established precisely with a professional hearing test, technically known as an audiogram.

Once your hearing professional has these figures, your hearing aid can be custom-programmed to enhance the frequencies you have the most trouble 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, determined by the programmed settings, the high-frequency sounds are amplified, 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 completely to normal?

While your hearing will not totally go back to normal, that shouldn’t stop you from attaining significant gains in your hearing. For virtually all individuals, the amplification provided is all they require to understand speech and indulge 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 just fine with 20/25 vision and the improvement from 20/80 would be substantive.

Are you set to discover the improvements you can attain with contemporary hearing aids? Call us today!

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.