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Hearing aids come in all shapes and sizes, and technological advancements have created more options that were imagined in the past. With so many new styles and types of hearing aids, it is important to get to know some of the basic features and functions that hearing aids provide. Indeed, some of these features are only available in one style or another, but most of the main functions will be present in any hearing aid type.
Getting to know how your aids work and where you can expect to find what you need is the first step in making your hearing aids work for you. It can take a little time to get used to your hearing aids after you first receive them, and knowing something about the structure and function can help you make the most of what you have. In addition to the basics covered here, you can always contact your hearing health professional for specific guidance on the functionality of your devices, and the manufacturer website and manuals can be helpful sources of information, as well.
What are the main types of hearing aids?
Although there are many different types of hearing aids, each with a different acronym for where they fit in the ear, the two main types are defined by the placement of the components. Behind-the-ear (BTE) hearing aids have two basic pieces that are connected by a thin plastic tube. One piece of the hearing aid wraps around the back of the ear, while the other piece rests in the outer ear at the entrance to the ear canal. The other main type of hearing aid is called an in-the-ear (ITE) model. These hearing aids include all the components in the same unit that sits in the ear. They may be placed in the curves of the outer ear or all the way inside the canal, out of sight. Though there are many varieties within these two types, this main distinction is easily visible and determines where the components can be found.
What are the components of a hearing aid?
Just like a karaoke machine, a hearing aid has a few basic components to make the world audible. The first component is the microphone. This transducer collects sonic energy from the air and transforms it into an electrical impulse. Once sound is turned into electricity, it is passed along to a receiver. This component takes a slight electrical signal and enhances the size and shape. Older models will use analog technology to do so, but most new hearing aids use digital processing to transform the sound of the world into a stronger and louder signal. The final pieces of the chain are the amplifier and speaker. These pieces turn the newly enhanced electrical signal into acoustic energy once again, playing a sound that the ear can sense and understand.
What other features are available?
Beyond these main components of hearing aids, a wide variety of other features are now available to make your hearing aids work for you. One of the most common new assets you might find is wireless connectivity. This feature makes it possible to modify your hearing aids from an app on your smartphone. These digital aids are also suited to Bluetooth connectivity, which seamlessly weaves sound amplification into the other forms of sound that are part of your life.
Whether notifications from your smartphone, a phone call itself, or media, music, or audio/video content streaming from your device, Bluetooth connectivity makes it possible to move between these sounds and the voice of a person in the room. One more of the latest features that might appear in your hearing aids is a rechargeable battery. Some hearing aids require frequent replacement of batteries, and these can be difficult to manipulate, particularly with arthritis or other issues with manual dexterity. Rechargeable batteries make it possible to dock your hearing aids in a simple station overnight where they will be ready for use the next day.
Some of these features might be available to you in your aids, but if you are interested in knowing more, don’t hesitate to contact us today for the latest in assistive technology! We look forward to hearing from you!