Hearing aids are small, portable electronic medical devices that are inserted either into or behind your ear in order to aid with hearing difficulties. The hearing aids work as a sound enhancement tool, increasing the audibility of surrounding sounds so that a person suffering from a hearing disability or hearing loss will have an increased ability to perceive external sound inputs. This can result in a great increase in a person’s quality of life as it can ameliorate their hearing difficulties in a variety of social and professional situations.
A hearing aid mainly consists of three main parts. It is a small, battery powered device which comes equipped with a microphone, sound enhancer and a speakerphone. By receiving external sound through the microphone, it can then convert the sound into signals that are then amplified by the sound enhancer, playing the sounds straight into the ear at an increased volume.
Inside our ears are tiny hair cells that are used to pick up sound signals from our environment. As some people age, or due to other medical and physical factors, these hair cells can become damaged or die. This will likely result in some form of partial hearing loss, as these sensory cells are compromised. This form of hearing loss is known as sensorineural hearing loss.
Through the magnification of sound waves in the ear, the sound signals transmitted to the brain are amplified, making up for the lack of healthy hair cells in the ear. Find out more about hearing aids here.
Unfortunately, hearing aids do not work for people who are completely deaf. They are mainly for individuals who suffer from mild or partial hearing loss due to damaged sensory cells. Even for individuals with severe hearing loss, the hair cells within the inner ear could be far too damaged to pick up on the vibrations and in this situation, a hearing aid will not be effective. A cochlear implant may be recommended for situations of severe hearing loss.
If you believe you are suffering from hearing impediments, please visit an otolaryngologist or ENT doctor in Singapore. A hearing test and medical examination will be performed to measure the degree of your hearing difficulty as well as to determine whether or not a hearing aid will be of use to you. If you are having issues with your hearing, consider visiting Dr. Dennis Chua.
There are three primary types of hearing aids:
Behind the Ear hearing aids are made out of a hard plastic casing that is fixed behind the ear and is connected to an earmold made of plastic. The earmold does not go into the inner ear, only the outer portions of the ear. The sound travels from the earmold into the ear sensors, amplifying the volume of the sounds heard. Behind the ear hearing aids have been said to be comfortable to wear.
In-The-Ear hearing aids fit completely inside the outer ear. They can be used for both mild and severe hearing loss. Similar to BTE hearing aids, the outer casing is made out of hard plastic.
A special feature of In-The-Ear hearing aids are that they come equipped with certain features, such as a telecoil. A telecoil is a magnetic, metal coil that by passes the microphone of the behind the ear hearing aid, allowing the user to hear the sounds directly from within the circuitry of the device.
For younger children suffering from hearing loss, ITE type hearing aids are often not recommended as the size of the casing will change as the children age.
These types of hearing aids fit deeper into the ear as compared to the other two. The canal hearing aid fits directly into the ear canal and is created so that it fits the exact shape and structure of the patient’s inner ear canal. These hearing aids are completely hidden from the naked eye. These are also smaller than other traditional hearing aids.
Due to their small size, they don’t usually have much space for fixtures like batteries or telecoils. Hence, they are not really recommended for children or for patients with extreme hearing loss because their function is limited by their size.