Today's devices are modern in every sense of the word, packed with features like Bluetooth connectivity, automatic speech translation, and artificial intelligence. Although these small electronic devices are becoming more sophisticated with each passing year, at its core, every hearing aid works in roughly the same fashion. 

What Are The Components of a Hearing Aid?

Most standard digital hearing aids consist of four primary components. 

  • Microphone. Picks up and transmits sound to the hearing aid's amplifier. Although some hearing aids have only basic microphones, others are sophisticated enough to dynamically differentiate speech from background noise. 
  • Amplifier. A computer chip within the hearing aid's main body, the amplifier converts the sound waves picked up by the microphone to an electronic signal. That signal is then sent to an internal speaker via a thin wire. 
  • Speaker. Transmits amplified sound into the eardrum. 
  • Power source. Most modern hearing aids are equipped with a rechargeable battery, though some still use disposables. 

Depending on the hearing aid model you've purchased, your hearing aid may also include a dome or earmold to anchor the speaker in the ear and create a seal. Domes are basically like the rubber/silicon component of a pair of earbuds. An earmold is a piece of plastic or acrylic that's specifically fitted and shaped for your ear. 

How Do Hearing Aids Treat Hearing Loss?

Hearing aids amplify specific sound frequencies. They're most frequently used for sensorineural hearing loss, where some of the stereocilia in your inner ear are damaged, but others still retain functionality. For more severe or profound hearing impairment, a hearing aid may not be sufficient, and you may need to look into a cochlear implant or something similar. 

What Are The Different Types of Hearing Aid?

There are two broad categories of digital hearing aids. Each can be found in several different variations. 

In-The-Ear (ITE) hearing aids are designed to sit directly within the ear canal. They're typically less visible than other types of hearing aids and are frequently custom-fitted. Types of ITE hearing aid include: 

  • Invisible- In-Canal (IIC).
  • Completely-in-Canal (CIC).
  • Low-profile. 

Behind-The-Ear(BTE) hearing aids are placed between the top and back of the outer ear. A thin tube runs from the hearing aid's body to an earmold or dome. Types of BTE hearing aid include: 

  • Receiver-in-Canal (RIC). 
  • Micro-behind-the-ear.

There are many other types of hearing aid beyond the basic digital model, including: 

  • Bone conduction
  • Bone anchored
  • Implanted middle ear.
  • Lyric.

You can read more about the different types of hearing aid here.

What's The Difference Between Hearing Aids and Personal Sound Amplification Products (PSAPs)?

Hearing aids are specialized medical devices that amplify specific sound frequencies. PSAPs simply amplify all sound they receive. They are intended as consumer devices and were never designed to treat hearing loss. 

What Are Some Recent Developments in Hearing Aid Tech? 

The audiology sector has undergone some incredibly exciting innovations over the past several years. Modern hearing aids are no longer solely hearing assistance devices but full-featured consumer products. They can connect to smart TVs and smart speakers, receive notifications and manage calls from a smartphone, and even allow audiologists to adjust them as-needed remotely. 

Many newer hearing aids also feature built-in artificial intelligence that dynamically adjusts their settings based on the user's location or environmental noise. 

Can Hearing Aids Really Prevent Cognitive Decline?

They cannot completely prevent cognitive decline. We still don't have the technology to do that in any sector. However, research has established a causal link between untreated hearing loss and dementia. In addition to delaying the onset of cognitive decline, hearing aids can significantly improve the wearer's quality of life by reducing loneliness and making one's day-to-day less mentally taxing. 

How do I Get A Hearing Aid? 

By 2022, specific hearing aid models will be sold over the counter in the United States, courtesy of a landmark proposal by the Food and Drug Administration. Currently, it does not appear as though there are any plans for similar legislation in Canada. As such, the best way to get a hearing aid is first to visit your audiologist and get your hearing tested. 

Connect Hearing can get you started with a free hearing test, then you can discuss next steps afterward.