Hearing Aids have existed for many, many years.In the beginning, the wearer would place a cone up to their ear which people would speak into. This created a funnel of sound into the wearer's ear. Today's hearing aids use much more sophisticated technology. But, how do modern hearing aids work?
There are small microphones built into hearing aids which amplify sound. The microphone is what does the trick. This device will receive the sound that comes in and convert it to an electrical or digital signal and send that data to a speaker where it is turned into sound once again. Settings for these microphones take into account the degree of a person's hearing loss and their usual environment. The environment the wearer is in depends on the level of noise they usually have around them. Do you tend to be around a lot of noises with high frequencies? Are these noises that you need to hear? To you tend to mainly be in places wear you mostly need to hear conversations? All these questions will help the audiologist adjust the settings on your hearing aid. This only partially explains the workings of a hearing aid.
Today's hearing aids make use of three kinds of technology for the receiving of and converting of sound. Analog is the least sophisticated and this type of hearing aid is cheaper than the other. The audiologist can make adjustments to the hearing aid volume as well as make other minor tweaks. The specs are then sent to the factory where a custom model is made. You can control the volume, or it will be controlled automatically.
Another type of circuitry found in hearing aids is called analog programmable. They are somewhat better than traditional analog due to the usage of computer programming. The audiologist sets different programs of sound capture and transmission for different listening situations. The wearer can select from preset programs via remote control.
The most advanced hearing aids use digital programming, and they also cost the most. For years they were impossible and then they were impractical because they couldn't be made small enough. Today, that is no longer a problem.
Then, how do digital hearing aids operate. Their circuitry contains a feature called DSP, or Digital Sound Processing. A tiny computer chip processes sounds before they are amplified. It does this by using billions of digital number codes to identify and classify sounds to give them the correct settings. Before it is sent to the ear, the data (which is digital) is converted to sound. Digital processing is also very effective at removing feedback from your hearing aid. There is very little adjustment necessary by a wearer of digital hearing aids.
There have been rapid improvements in hearing aids over a short time-frame. People who can want to hear better have many options now. Today's hearing aids, and how they work, can be summed up in one word – 'technology'.