Once hearing gets too difficult, it may be time to consider a hearing amplifier, such as a hearing aid, to make it easier to communicate with others around you. But how exactly do they work, and are they really worth it?
Hearing amplifiers can amplify the sound a person hears through a three-party system:
- The microphone receives the sound before converting it to a digital signal.
- The amplifier makes the signal stronger
- The speaker will move this sound to the ear
Let’s take a closer look at how these hearing amplifiers work and whether it is worth it to get one for your hearing.
How Hearing Amplifiers Work
To start, a hearing amplifier is any kind of device that helps reduce hearing loss in the individual by amplifying the sounds they hear. When hearing loss begins, it is nearly impossible to restore. Even surgery will not work.
To help the individual hear, they can use a hearing amplifier to help make sounds louder. As long as the individual has at least partial hearing, they can use one of these devices. There are several options for hearing amplifiers, but the most common is the hearing aid.
At the most basic form, a hearing amplifier is just a miniature hearing system that fits in the ear and has four main components including:
- The microphone
- The amplifier
- The receiver or the speaker
- The batteries or the power supply
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The hearing amplifier starts with the microphone. Each type of hearing amplifier has a tiny microphone inside that helps start the whole process. When the microphone picks up any sound around the user, it can then take that signal and turn it into an electrical or a digital signal depending on the device.
Once the microphone has captured the sound and changed it to a signal, the amplifier will come in and increase the sound of the signal. There are different ways the signal can be amplified. In some systems, it is done with advanced processing.
Most amplifiers can do a great job of increasing the sound so it is easier to hear noises, voices, and more. The amplifier is not perfect all the time though. Some issues that can happen with the amplifier include:
- Distortion: If something is wrong with the amplifier, it can end up distorting the sound that comes out.
- Catches background noise: The amplifier will catch every noise, even ones you do not want. In some cases, background noises can interfere with other sounds.
After the amplifier makes the sound louder, the speaker or the receiver can convert that digital signal into sound. This gets sent to the inner ear and continues through the regular hearing channels. The brain will hear the sound, recognizing it as speech.
Putting It Together
These three parts come together to make it easier to hear others around you. The microphone, amplifier, and receiver help to make the sounds around you louder. The ear and the brain still do the same work as before in interpreting the sounds. The hearing amplifier just helps make the sounds louder so the ear can be more effective at doing its job.
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Are Hearing Amplifiers Worth It?
As your hearing starts to go, you may wonder whether wearing hearing amplifiers are worth it or not. Some things to consider when choosing the right time to begin wearing a hearing amplifier includes:
The Benefits of Hearing Amplifiers
Hearing amplifiers can make a big difference in the lives of those who use them. When hearing loss starts to get poor, a hearing amplifier is the best way to improve communication and connection with the world.
With a hearing amplifier:
- It is easier to hear sounds that were once hard.
- You can have conversations on the phone better.
- It is easier to communicate with those around you.
- Your communication abilities will improve, even in noisier areas.
The Limitations of Hearing Amplifiers
There are many things to love about hearing amplifiers, but they are not the perfect solution for everyone.
Some of the limitations of a hearing amplifier include:
- These aids can be expensive to get.
- You will need to learn how to use the hearing amplifier to get the right settings.
- When you first start, everything can be loud.
- There are a number of necessary adjustments after getting the amplifier to make sure it fits well.
- These amplifiers will amplify all sounds, including much of the background noise you do not like to hear.
- These do not restore your normal hearing, just make sounds louder.
Should I Use a Digital Hearing Amplifier?
There are a few different types of hearing amplifiers that you can try. One of the best right now is the digital hearing amplifier. The beginning of digital signal processing made hearing amplifiers better than ever before.
They provide additional benefits to your hearing including:
- They are more precise than ever before.
- Easier to shape the settings of the instrument to work best for each individual and their hearing needs.
- Enhanced perception for listening comfort and speech.
- Better sound without all of the feedback
- Works better in noisy environments that often cause problems with hearing amplifiers.
Different Types of Amplifiers
If you are looking for a hearing amplifier to make sounds louder and clearer, there are many types to choose from. These are all designed for different levels of hearing loss and different comfort levels of the user. Some of the most common hearing amplifiers include:
Behind the Ear Amplifiers
This is the most common type of amplifier and the one most people consider. The BTE can hook right behind the ear. The microphone will hold onto the sound and then send it through the hollow tube found in the ear canal. They come with a dome that can fit in the ear.
- Be careful when using these if:
- You have glasses.
- You have problems with ear wax
- You want something small to use.
Receiver In-Ear Amplifiers
This design is similar to the BTE amplifiers, but the digital sound is transmitted through the wire rather than a hollow tube. This helps improve the quality of the sound.
Completely In Canal Amplifiers
This is similar to the headphones that go right in the ear. The patient can place them in their ear and benefit from the hearing aid. It is small and can be hidden discretely without notice.
Around the Neck Amplifiers
These are a Walkman style hearing amplifier that can make the sounds around you louder. Just add the headphones to the ears and enjoy the sounds that a small box around the neck Is able to catch.
This is effective but you may run into trouble:
- This hearing aid is more noticeable.
- The box can get broken easier.
- Need to wear headphones.
Are Hearing Amplifiers Worth It?
For some people, hearing amplifiers are a good investment. They enjoy being able to hear everything around them and catching up on some of the things they may have missed as their hearing deteriorated.
For others who are just beginning to lose their hearing, these hearing amplifiers may be too expensive and a hassle. If you are considering hearing amplifiers, you should discuss this with your doctor.
Choosing a Good Hearing Amplifier
Hearing amplifiers work to help amplify the sounds around you. When your hearing starts to struggle, having one of these aids can make it easier to hear and communicate with the people around you.
They may not make a big difference to everyone, but for some who struggle with hearing basic daily sounds, amplifiers can be a huge help.