Hearing aids refer to an electronic device that changes and amplifies sound to improve hearing. This device receives sound via a microphone that converts sound waves to electrical signals. The amplifier installed in this device increases loudness of these signals after which it sends sound to the ear via a speaker. It’s good to note that this device does not restore normal hearing. All it does is boost the hearing ability of people suffering from hearing loss.
Causes of hearing loss:
Hearing impairment has become very common in the current world. This problem affects people of all ages. The common causes are: Old age, hereditary factors, severe illness, trauma and long-term exposure to ear damaging noise
Types of hearing aids:
There are many types of hearing aids. They vary in power, size and circuitry. Below are the most common types:
i. In the ear aids (ITE)
This gadget is fitted in the outer ear bowl.
The device fits in the outer ear bowl (concha). It is applicable in cases of mild and severe hearing impairment. Its circuit has a vent to counter any squealing sound leaking and undergoing amplification. This vent works by equalizing pressure. IET can be connected to FM systems wirelessly. This device is very small and fills only the bottom portion of the external ear. They are invisible unless you look directly into the ear of the one wearing it.
ii. Body worn hearing aids
This aid consists of a case and an ear mold which is attached by a wire. In the case, there is an electronic amplifier, a control and a battery. The ear mold contains a small loudspeaker. The case is small thus can be carried on a belt or put in the pocket.
iii. Behind the ear (BTE) aid
This gadget is made of a case and ear mold. These two are connected. The case has a battery, electronics, controls, loudspeaker and a microphone. The case is usually made to sit behind the pinna. The connection then runs down from the case to the front part of the ear. If sound is routed electrically, the receiver is found in the ear mold. Plastic tubes transmit sound from the loudspeaker when sound is routed acoustically. This gadget can be used in cases of both profound and mild hearing loss. BET can be connected to devices like FM systems.
iv. Receiver in the ear/canal (RIC)
This device has a loudspeaker placed directly in the ear without an ear mold. Very soft ear inserts are used to fix the loudspeaker in the patient’s ear. This design has a more improved sound quality. It also has a small case and fixing it is very easy.
v. Invisible in the canal hearing aids (IIC)
This device fits comfortably inside the ear canal making it invisible. It is custom-made to fit in different canal sizes. Unlike other gadgets only a small portion of the ear is covered by this gadget. This enables natural sound correction depending on the shape of the ear. Some advanced models of ICC allow use of mobile phone to adjust volume settings.
How to adjust to hearing devices:
One takes time to adjust to these gadgets. It is a gradual process. The best way to adjust is trying to listen to different sounds. Learn to listen to people, animals, diverse sounds and gadgets such as radios. Also try listening in different environments both quiet and noisy. With time you will be able to adapt fully to use of these hearing aids.
About the Author The Hearing Centre is your one-stop centre for complete hearing aids and hearing conservation services. Ernest has been fitting hearing devices since 2004.