Home / How Different Type of Hearing Aids Work | View Detailed Precision

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General Information on hearing aids:

The first hearing aids were fairly simple cone-shaped instruments ranging from a rolled-up tube to an elaborate “ear trumpet” which gave consumers a slight boost in sound. The first hearing aid appeared in 1921 after the Invention of the vacuum tube, but these devices were cumbersome units with large parts and heavy batteries.

Today, a hearing aid system consists of a small microphone designed to pick up sound waves and convert them into electrical signals in a pattern that represents sound waves. These signals are fed into an amplifier, which boosts the signal and sends it to a receiver.

The receiver converts the amplified signals back into sound and transmits them into the ear through the ear mold. If the ear mold is properly fitted, it carries the amplified sound into the ear canal. A poorly-fitted ear mold, however, causes whistles and squeals and can be irritating and painful to the wearer.

This is why custom-fitted molds are often more desirable than ready-made types.

Although a hearing aid can amplify sound, it doesn’t necessarily improve the clarity of the sound. Unfortunately, aids can’t make hearing completely normal, and they require practice and skill to be used  effectively. Still, even profoundly deaf individuals can benefit from powerful behind-the-ear aids.

Modern hearing aids do much more than simply amplify sound; they can also filter background noise, change tonal quality and control the loudness of environmental sounds.

Researchers have been able to devise smaller and smaller units that are less visible, which appeals to those who don’t want others to know they wear hearing aids.

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TYPES OF HEARING AIDS

Today’s most sophisticated aids may range up to $6,000; most of these are small enough to fit into a pocket. Most are not usually covered by health insurance.

Digital Aids

These newest type of digital hearing aids represent a major breakthrough in computer-tuned

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Digital hearing aid

sound, and contain miniature computer chips designed to tailor sound to the ear of the person wearing the device.

These are actually tiny computers that have a computer chip inside doing the amplifier work, inside of the traditional analog circuity. While most people with hearing problems have trouble with certain tones within the hearing spectrum, most aids amplify all tones equally.

Digital aids can be adjusted to screen out background noise and amplify certain tones, depending on the environment. Some of the newest aids break down sound into more than twice as many channels as other aids on the market, providing a more personalized hearing experience. They are set by hearing health care providers using an external computer.

Nonlinear Single-Channel Aids

More advanced technology produced a nonlinear aid that has more amplification given to soft sounds than for loud sounds. Once sounds reach a certain level, the aid automatically adjusts the volume. This type of aid squeezes a wide range of loudness into a narrower range, which is why they are also called compression hearing aids.

Nonlinear Multi-channel Aids

This newer type of aid is designed with a consumer’s personal hearing needs in mind, based upon how loud certain sounds need to be interpreted for various frequencies.

In hearing aids with only one channel, a loud noise of low frequency (such as sound during a party) would trigger the hearing aid to lower the amplification  for all frequencies, which would help keep the sound from being too loud – but would also make some high-frequency sounds (such as consonants) too soft to hear.

In the same situation, a multi-channel aid would decrease the amplification for low frequencies without changing the amplification for high frequencies. If fitted correctly, they can greatly improve speech clarity (especially in noisy listening environments).

Multiple/Automatic Program Aids

Some hearing aids have several different programs that can be selected by a touch of a button (either on the aid or on a separate remote control) to select amplification best suited to different environments, such as listening, in a restaurant, in a one-on-one situation or for music.

Other aids have automatic volume regulation so that the consumer doesn’t have to bother with volume volume control. However, some people don’t like aids that take away too much control.

In-The-Ear Aids

In-the-ear-aids are the lightweight devices that fit inside the ear canal with no visible wires or

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In-the-ear hearing aid

tubes. This aid is created from an impression of your ear canal; the components are then built into the case that is molded from this impression.

There are a number of styles of aids that are encased within a plastic shell and are worn entirely within the ear. These include:

  • traditional in-the-canal
  • custom in-the-ear (ITE) model, which can completely fill the ear canal
  • half-concha, a thinner low-profile model
  • helix model, an even smaller model (for high-frequency losses)
  • completely-in-the-canal aid, the tiniest style, so small it must be remove from the ear by pulling on a thin cord that rest at the bottom of the bowl of the ear.

It’s possible to control tone but not volume, which makes them generally helpful for only mild losses. More than half of all the hearing aids sold today are in-the-ear aids. These new aids are extremely expensive, but they are invisible and offer acoustic and maintenance advantages.

The good thing about an in-the-ear aid is that it won’t bump into your glasses, and it can provide more power for the higher frequencies. In addition, many people find these aids are easier to put on and take off than the behind-the-ear style.

Behind-the-ear aids

Less popular are the behind-the-ear aids that include a microphone, amplifier, and a receiver

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Behind-the-ear hearing aid

inside a small curved case worn behind the ear that’s connected to the earmold by a short plastic tube.

The earmold extends into the ear canal from a quarter to three quarters of an inch. Some models have both tone and volume control plus a telephone pickup device.

This style does not require as much maintenance since the earmolds can handle everyday trauma better than smaller, more delicate  models. They are easily interchangeable if you have to take one in for servicing.

Some people who must wear glasses find that the aids interfere with the fit of the eyeglasses. Others don’t have enough space behind their ears for such a device to fit comfortably.

Bone Conduction Aids

Bone conduction aids are designed primarily for people with conductive hearing loss that hasn’t been effectively treated with surgery. This type of aid, which allows sound to be heard through the bone behind the ear, is used when the ear canal is cloced or drainage fromthe ear is poor.

Eyeglass Models

This model is much the same as the behind-the-ear aid, except that the case fits into an eyeglass frame instead of resting behind the ear. While this means that the eyeglass frame needs to be slightly larger, modern miniaturized parts can be incorporated into an eyeglass frame that isn’t too large.

Still, not very many people choose to purchase such an aid. They are useful for those whose hearing loss ranges from mild to severe.

CROS or Crossover System

This type of hearing aid system, often used in conjunction with the eyeglass model, is used by people with normal hearing in one ear and a moderate-to-severe loss in the other. The CROS ( contralateral routing of signal) system features a microphone, amplifier, and controls behind the impaired ear that feeds the amplified signal to the better ear, eliminating “head shadow” (which occurs when the head blocks sound from the better ear).

The amplified sound from the hearing aid on the one side is added to the normal sound entering the healthy ear.

A  CRIS – CROS hearing aid is designed for someone with severe hearing loss in both ears who may be unable to wear hearing aids at ear level because of feedback problems. Feedback occurs when the amplifier leaks sound back into the microphone because it’s too close to the receiver.

In this case, a CRIS – CROS aid uses two CROS aids behind the ear, each unit encompassing the microphone for the other side.

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On-The-Body-Aids

These hearing aids feature a larger microphone, amplifier and power supply inside a case

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On-the-body hearing aid

carried inside a pocket or attached to clothing. The external receiver attaches directly to the earmold; its power comes through a flexible wire from the amplifier.

Although larger than other aids. on-the-body hearing aids are also more powerful and easier to adjust than smaller devices. If you are almost totally deaf, you may find you need that extra boost in power available only from the body aid.

Monaural/Binaural Aids

Monaural hearing aids include any aid that provides sound to just one ear, whereas binaural aids include two complete hearing devices, one in each ear. Some wearers find that the binaural system increases direction sense and helps separate sound from unwanted background noise.

Any type of hearing aid may be worn in both ears, if the listener can tolerate two aids and can benefit from amplifying residual hearing in both ears.

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When you buy something from this website, I may receive an affiliate commission.
These are my opinions and are not representative of the companies that create these products.
My reviews are based on my personal experience and research. I never recommend poor quality products, or create false reviews to make sales.
It is my intention to explain products so you can make an informed decisions on which ones suit your needs best.

 

 

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21 comments on “How Different Type of Hearing Aids Work | View Detailed Precision”

  • Hi, I have actually a tinnitus problem in my ears. I don’t know where it came from but last year I didn’t have it. It’s very disturbing although not that loud yet.

    I don’t know if a hearing aid could help with such a problem but I search for answers wherever I can. I live in Thailand and the doctors here only say they see no infection.

    I saw this ad for capsules at the end of your post, this might be an idea to try 🙂

    • Many folks develop Tinnitus and not sure how they got it. This ‘ringing’ and ‘whirring’ sound in the ear sometime develops from moisture deep within the ear canal. Doctors in your country may be looking for the wrong thing, which in turn, you’re given the wrong diagnosis. Stefan, I’ve looked into a few more products and found one that’s inexpensive and should work. Just follow the directions. Here’s the link where you’ll see the item and description. Keep me posted. https://amzn.to/2PfQ82Z

  • Hi Ronald, thank you for an extremely detailed article. I was unaware that there were so many different types of hearing aids on the market. I appreciate the research that has gone into providing such informative material. I have had some experience with children that have suffered from hearing loss and behind the ear types are the most commonly prescribed for them. I noted that they found them uncomfortable and tried pulling them off all the time. What do you think would be more suitable for very young children? Thanks again and I will be popping in to see what others gems of helpful information you can provide.

    Cass 

    • Hi Cass. Thanks for reading my post. Yes, they’re many on the market, I guess you can say suitable for everyone’s taste. Adults and children alike. But I understand with children, It’s hard to keep them wearing something they don’t like…even if it’s for bettering their own health. So I’ve researched and found something that can, at least, help keep the earpiece in and would make it more difficult to remove. Here’s the link. You can see the item and description. Keep me posted:  https://amzn.to/2E8LNxq

  • Great information for beginners who want to learn play guitar. My daughter loves guitar and I enjoy Tom Petty who plays old school guitar.

    This type of music is where its at. I love listening to his fingers move over the guitar threads. So fluid yet natural rhythm. I have an old guitar laying at home, which I just might pull out for myself. Thanks for the heads up…looking forward to your YouTube channel.

    • Well Jagi, I’m glad to hear your daughter loves guitar. But your comment sounds as though you may have replied to the wrong post. I posted information on different types of hearing aids. Unless your child’s hearing is affecting her Tom Petty style of studying and playing, then I can help you with any hearing device you need. Please clarify. 

  • Wow….Thanks for taking the time to explain the different hearing aid models available.  My husband recently discovered that he has significant hearing loss in his ears.  He’s reluctant to get a hearing aid.  I’m hoping to find a solution that works for him and maybe one that isn’t so visible as I think that’s part of the reason he’s so reluctant.

    Do you happen to know if any of these devices pair with your phone or tablet for making adjustments and what not?  That might be another selling point for him as he will be able to easily adjust the settings without having to remove the device, etc.

    Thanks again for the informative post!

  • I have a family member who wears an hearing aid. Most days you can’t even see if she is wearing one or not. Other times when it sweats in her ear you can tell she has it in. It’s very discreet, yet sometimes starts making a buzzing noise.

    She is looking at getting one for over the ear. At one it was suggested she get a baha, but that seemed to mechanical looking for her. For now she is happy with hers in the canal, but the hearing would be more approved with over the ear. Great review, will point her this way.

    • When it comes to hearing aids, I guess to some it’s a matter of style and/or personal taste in design. You would think the main concern is strength and longevity in regards to how long the device will last. If it’s over the ear or inside the ear, it seems it shouldn’t matter as long as the device serves the purpose. The nearly ‘invisible ones’ are also very popular.

  • My little brother has been using the digital hearing aid for a few years now, it is indeed very expensive, we wouldn’t know what to do if we didnt have insurance.

    I really liked the article, I can see that you wrote this article with passion and with the intention to help those in need. I’m pretty sure there are many people who will find this information very valuable. Thank you!

    • Isaac, if your insurance company company paid 100% on your hearing aid device, then that’s great! Most would only pay a small percentage, then the rest is out-of-pocket cost. Good to hear that the digital device improved your brother’s way of life. Please share my article with others.

  • It brings back memories of my teaching days in the UK. I taught in a school which was the first experiment with combining children who were partially hearing with normal hearing children.This was in 1963, hearing aids back then was strictly behind the ears. I am amazed how far we have come, with the different kinds of hearing aids. what about implants or is that for the worse cases?
    One plus from the 1963 experiment was the better diction of the partially hearing and the social acceptance by normal hearing students. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Courtney and thanks for commenting. Over the years things do change. Different times brings on different change. Even when it comes down to what’s needed for the disabled and the hearing impaired. I remember 1963, I was in elementary school. Running buck wild. I remember seeing folks wearing the ‘behind the ear’ aids. Fast forward to current times. Better and more advanced techniques are now in place for the hearing disabled.

      Courtney, now with the more serious cases, there are ‘cochlear implants’ that’s surgically implanted in the patients mastoid bone to stimulate the hearing nerve. This enable a hard of hearing person to perceive some sound. It won’t restore normal hearing. Courtney, let me know if i could assist you further. Share my site with others.

  • Wow! What a beautiful and informative website. In my ignorance, I never knew that one’s loss of hearing could vary from another. As I think about it now, it makes sense. However, I just didn’t time to think of some important as one’s hearing.

    It is a fascinating subject, though. I work as a replacement teacher, and in my travels, I have been fortunate to meet many children that wear hearing aids, and right now I recognise how remarkable those children are. Those aids can help them in hearing. However, they still don’t make the children hearing “perfect,” yet, they still come to a classroom every day with the intention to learn. That my friend is true resilience.

    • Hi Amerlee and thanks for commenting. I agree that hearing aids don’t restore normal hearing in young people and adults. Their communication is not clear enough, but hearing aid usage will open up more understanding between the listener and the communicator. Young children fitted with aids are determined to learn despite their disability. Amerlee, please share my site with others. If I could be further assistance to you, please let me know.

  • Ronald,

    You have covered a lot of material in a thorough manner that makes it easy to understand. Both my husband and I have some hearing loss due to aging, though mine is probably too much loud music.

    I like how you went through each style and described the uses and benefits of each. The brief history of hearing aids was interesting as well.

    Near the beginning, you wrote that aids amplify but don’t clarify, which is what I think I need. It’s difficult for me to hear when there is background noise. Is there an aid that will help with that?

    I have a constant ringing or roaring sound in my ears, and I think if that were gone, I would be able to hear better. Loud sounds make it much worse, so I have always worried that a hearing aid would make it worse.

    Thanks for the info, and I hope to hear from you soon.

    Irvie

    • Hi Irvie. I do apologize for the delay on getting back to you. Are either both you and your husband wearing hearing aids now? If not, as in your case regarding the issue with background noise, the best hearing aids are the one’s with digital signal processing (DSP). They differentiate between speech and noise and they turn down the volume when they identify noise. People who wear aids with DSP circuitry report less stress because the background noise seem to fade, and speech quality very much improved.

      Although these type of aids are helpful, but still they’re not perfect. Hearing aids involving digital reduction technology are still being research for future improvements.

      In some situations, depending on the degree of disability, two hearing aids could be used instead of just one. Some uses find this increases better and easier speech perception in typical noisy listening situations.

      In regards to roaring or roaring in your ears, I don’t believe you’ll need an aid for that. It may be caused from a heavy wax build up. If it has been a long-term problem, there could be possible damage to the hearing organ. Get a complete ear evaluation from an ear specialist. If your primary physician isn’t a specialist, he or she should be able to recommend one.

      I hoped this help. Please don’t hesitate if you have other question or concerns. Also, please share my site with others you feel this will help.

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