A hearing aid is a small, sound amplifying device that you wear inside or behind your ear. It helps to make sounds clearer for people who have hearing loss. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 20% of the world’s population deals with a form of hearing loss. And it is estimated that only a fifth of these people act on their hearing loss and use hearing aids.
How does a hearing aid work?
A hearing aid works by increasing the level of sound that is delivered to the ear and sent to the brain for processing. A hearing aid consists of five core components, these are:
- one or two microphones that pick up/sense sounds
- a sound processor that makes speech clearer by reducing disturbing noise
- an amplifier that makes soft sound audible
- a small loudspeaker to present the processed sound to the ear
- a rechargeable or disposable battery.
A hearing aid works through a straightforward process. The microphones pick up the sound, which is converted into electrical signals and sent to the sound processor. Sound is adjusted to increase the signal, i.e. speech, while reducing noise. The level of this signal is then increased by the amplifier and delivered to the ear via the loudspeaker.
Modern hearing aids make use of digital processing, and the most advanced ones make use of the latest technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI). Some hearing aids have rechargeable batteries, which is easy and convenient since there is no need to change or dispose of any batteries. More and more hearing aids can also be connected wirelessly to smart devices such as cell phones, music players, computers, and TVs.
Here you can learn more about the science behind hearing and hearing loss.
Benefits of hearing aids
A hearing aid helps you hear soft sounds as well as speech in conversations, which will most likely help you feel more confident and comfortable. A hearing aid can help you:
- Connect with people:
A hearing aid can improve your ability to hear and understand speech. It adapts seamlessly to the environment you are in, making speech clearer in loud environments and reducing noises. It lets you engage with people and the world around you so that you and your loved ones can stay connected.
- Connect to the world:
A hearing aid helps you listen to the sounds of the world, even soft ones, and life around you. It also helps to take advantage of the technology around you. It allows you to connect with your smartphone, television, or other devices helping you listen to your favorite piece of music or a television program.
- Connect with yourself:
Better hearing can give you an opportunity to maintain and enjoy better mental and emotional health. Hearing aids can help you feel more confident and enjoy life with increased hearing capabilities.
Different types of hearing aids
Everyone's hearing loss is different, as is everyone's lifestyle and needs. And so, there is a wide range of hearing aids available to you that can be tailored to your requirements. These include:
Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids
This hearing aid is easy to handle and is worn outside the ear, fitting snugly behind the outer part of the ear. This powerful type of hearing aid is suitable for those with profound to severe hearing losses. Read more about behind-the-ear hearing aids.
Receiver-in-the-ear (RITE) hearing aids are some of the most popular and technically advanced hearing aids on the market today. The RITE hearing aids' speaker is situated within your ear canal. The RITE hearing aids are smaller in size, more discreet. And they are suitable for people with mild to severe hearing losses.
In-the-ear (ITE) hearing aids
The ITE aids are worn in your outer ear and ear canal. An individual ear impression helps build a custom-made hearing aid, just for your ears and hearing needs. There are many options and styles available for the ITE hearing aid, including the IIC, CIC, and ITC hearing aids.
Invisible-in-canal (IIC) hearing aids
The IIC hearing aids are built for maximum discreetness. These small hearing aids are for those with mild to moderately severe hearing loss. They are placed deep in your ear canal, thus providing you with little distraction or obstruction as you go about your daily life.
Completely-in-canal (CIC) hearing aids
The completely-in-canal hearing aid is worn entirely in the ear canal for those experiencing mild to moderately severe hearing losses. With a range of features, this hearing aid has a barely visible role in improving your hearing capabilities.
In-the-canal (ITC) hearing aids
This hearing aid is placed within the ear canal and is visibly discreet. It has a range of individualization options, creating a custom-built hearing aid for your exact needs and lifestyle.
What should I consider before I get hearing aids?
If you find yourself experiencing a decrease in your hearing capabilities, you may need hearing aids. The big decision to start wearing hearing aids and deal with your hearing loss can have a life-changing impact. Here are some things to consider before getting hearing aids.
If you start noticing signs of hearing loss, you should think about how your hearing has changed and when you have difficulties hearing. Where and when does it feel most affected, in what kind of an environment do you struggle to hear? This information can help your hearing care specialist tailor your hearing aids to the exact support you need. You can take our online hearing test as a first step and get an indication if you have a hearing loss.
A hearing aid compensates for the loss of sound sensitivity, making sounds and speech clearer and more comfortable for you in specific settings, but it will not bring your hearing back fully.
When you visit a hearing care specialist, they will go through the styles of hearing aids available and try to find the right one for your hearing needs and lifestyle. They will also guide you on the potential costs and available financial support to find a hearing aid that is both right for your hearing and financially sound.
How to adjust to life with hearing aids
Once you have chosen the hearing aid that best addresses your hearing loss, requirements, or budget, you will have it fitted by your hearing care specialist. They will offer you practical advice on how to wear your hearing aid correctly and how to use the accessories.
Although your hearing aid may provide an instant benefit, you will need time to adjust and become accustomed to amplification and the new experience of wearing something in and around your ear. The more you wear your hearing aid within different settings, the more likely you can get the best out of your hearing aid.
A few weeks or months after you start using your new hearing aid, it is advised that you organize a follow-up meeting with your hearing care specialist. You can ask any questions you might have. Furthermore, your specialist can check to make sure both you and your ear adapt well to your new hearing aid and adjust the hearing aid for the best hearing experience.
Get to know your options
Finding the right type and style of hearing aid for you can depend on many factors. It could be the degree of hearing loss you have, your lifestyle preferences, or cosmetic concerns. Learn more about hearing aids and what is available to you.
Help and advice
If you would like to check your hearing you can take our online hearing test or if you seek personal support, a hearing care specialist is available to help advise you on your hearing and the options you have available.