Types of Hearing Aids Explained
All of us may experience hearing loss every now and then though only temporary. However, in certain conditions such as ear damage from illness, drugs, injuries and exposure to loud noise, hearing loss may become permanent. Long-term hearing loss may require the use of hearing aids which are sound-amplifying devices that are designed to aid hearing in people with hearing loss.
While most hearing aids have similar components such as a microphone that can pick up sound, an amplifier that can make sounds louder, a loudspeaker that conducts sound into the ear canal and batteries for power, they differ from each other by means of design, technology (analog versus digital), and other special features. There are some hearing aids that have ear pieces or ear molds that conduct sound into the ear and enhance its quality. Health professionals may select hearing aids for a particular patient based on the type of hearing loss, its severity and the person’s listening needs and lifestyle.
So what are the types of hearing aids? Here are some of them.
This type of hearing aid has parts that are contained inside a small plastic case that is located behind the ear. The case is then connected into an earpiece or an earmold by clear plastic tubing. This device is often used by young children because it is able to accommodate various earmold types which may be replaced as the child grows. This type of hearing aid is easy to clean, easy to handle and is sturdy.
This type of hearing aid fits behind the ear but is smaller than the other types. There is a thin, invisible tube that connects the hearing aid to the ear canal. This type of hearing aid often contains a comfortable earpiece for insertion but may also require a traditional earmold oftentimes. It not only allows reduced occlusion in the ear canal but also allows comfort, reduced feedback and decreased cosmetic worries.
In this type, all the hearing aid parts are within a shell that fills the outer ear. These hearing aids are larger than in-the-canal and completely-in-the-canal aids, so they are easier to handle.
4. In-The-Canal and Completely-In-The-Canal
These hearing aids are present in small cases that may fill the ear canal partly or completely. These types are the smallest hearing aids available and can provide better hearing and are cosmetically advantaged. However, their small size may also pose as a disadvantage because they can be difficult to handle and difficult to adjust for many people.
Hearing aids may also be classified as to whether they are analog or digital.
1. Analog hearing aids
This type makes continuous sound waves louder by amplifying these sounds. Analog hearing aids may be programmable and they may contain microchips that can be programmed for different listening environments, whether noisy or quiet. The device can store many programs for various environments. Because the listening environment changes once in a while, the settings of an analog may be changed by pressing a button. Analog hearing aids are becoming less common nowadays.
2. Digital hearing aids
Digital hearing aids are able to convert sound waves into digital signals to duplicate sound. They contain computer chips that are able to analyze speech and other sounds in the environment. The device processes more complex sounds and amplifies these sounds while reducing background noise and whistles. They also have greater flexibility because they are able to transmit sounds that are matched to address the needs for specific patterns of hearing loss. Digital hearing aids can also provide multiple program memories.
Your health care provider may be able to help you by choosing the right hearing aids for you. With the right hearing aids, hearing loss is no longer a problem and you can enjoy the company of friends and family without misunderstandings or communication problems.