Hearing well can be something that many people take for granted. It’s only if and when your hearing is impacted that you realise how much you depend on it.

Not only is your hearing health important for your safety and navigating the world, but it also helps you remain as independent as possible, aids in your communication skills, and helps you enjoy the smaller things in life, like the breeze rustling tree leaves on a warm spring day.

When your hearing health isn’t quite where you’d like it to be, you might consider hearing aids. However, if you’re not sure exactly how they work, you might like to know as much as you can before you delve deeper. So let’s dive in and explore the fascinating technology that makes hearing aids possible.

This article explores how hearing aids work, what they’re used for, the different types available, and more. For personalised advice, contact our team at Melbourne Audiology Centre today.

What are Hearing Aids Used For?

Hearing aids are small devices that have come a long way with the advancement of science and technology. They’re worn in or on your ears and assist with making sounds louder and clearer. Technology has allowed them to become smaller and more discreet than ever before, all while offering the same benefit of helping with your hearing.

Hearing aids are designed to amplify sounds, making them louder so you can hear and understand them easier. Many also have the ability to filter out background noise, so it’s easier to ‘cut through’ the noise and hear what’s most important.

How Do Hearing Aids Work?

Essentially, hearing aids ‘turn up’ the sound vibrations that enter your ear when somebody or something makes a sound near you.

Hearing aids typically contain five components:

  • Microphone
  • Amplifier
  • Speaker
  • Battery
  • Computer chip

Some hearing aids will have one microphone, while others may have more. The microphone or microphones will pick up the sound, whether that’s somebody’s voice talking to you, a car horn, music, or sound from the TV. That sound is then transferred to the computer chip, which analyses and processes the sound.

From there, the sound is amplified and sent to the speaker, which transmits the sound through either tubing or a thin wire to the receiver (the part in or on your ear). When your inner ear receives this information, the hair cells in your inner ear detect the vibrations and turn them into signals that are sent to the brain. When the sounds are interpreted as electrical impulses, the brain turns these impulses into sound.

The Different Types of Hearing Aids

There are several types of hearing aids available, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs depending on your lifestyle and preferences. The main types are:

  • Behind the ear (BTE) — These sit behind the ear and direct sound into the ear canal through a small tube or wire.
  • In the ear (ITE) — This type is custom-made for your ear canal, so it fits perfectly. This can be the most discreet option depending on your chosen style.
  • Receiver in canal (RIC) — Similar to behind-the-ear hearing aids, this type has a small speaker inside the ear canal.
  • In the canal (ITC) — These are often larger, but with this space comes the option to add more features.

These are just the most well-known types of hearing aids, and many more are available. If you’re not sure which type may be best for you, your audiologist will be able to help you make a decision.

How to Tell if You Need Hearing Aids

If you find yourself straining to hear conversations that you could easily hear before, this may be a sign that hearing aids may be a good choice for you. However, there’s no one size fits all approach to who does and who doesn’t need hearing aids. Some reasons people consider hearing aids include:

  • Feeling that people are speaking more softly and/or mumbling more than they used to
  • Needing to ask people to repeat themselves often
  • Having difficulty hearing people clearly over the phone
  • Struggling to hear in group conversations
  • Having to turn the TV or radio up to a higher volume

There may be other reasons for the above, and hearing aids may or may not be suitable in your circumstances. If you’re concerned about your hearing health, please contact your audiologist.

Why You Should Invest in Hearing Aids

Hearing aids do so much more than simply make sounds louder! While this is one of the main things they do, modern hearing aids have evolved to help with many other hearing-related issues. They can often assist with filtering out background noise, determining the right volume for certain sounds in particular circumstances, and even receive speech and music from audio sources with a Bluetooth connection.

Investing in hearing aids isn’t just an investment in your hearing health— it’s an investment in your quality of life. Being able to hear more clearly typically allows you to feel connected with your friends and family, and experience all the joys that come with socialisation and togetherness. Being able to hear better helps you to understand and communicate as effectively as possible, which can be invaluable. These factors may also play into your emotional well-being by improving your confidence and decreasing anxiety, giving you a feeling of more control over your life.

How Often Should You Change Your Hearing Aids?

Much like any other piece of technology, hearing aids may need to be replaced from time to time. If you take good care of your hearing aids, you can reduce how often you’ll need to replace them, but it can only be put off for so long! This is because hearing aids are exposed to sweat, high temperatures, dust, dirt, and so on, but regular maintenance and repairs may help to extend their life. The general timeframe for replacement is 4-5 years; however, your audiologist will be able to provide personalised advice.

It may be time to consider upgrading your hearing aids if you find your hearing is reverting back to its previous state even when you have your hearing aids in. Another reason may be if your daily life has changed in some way, such as you’re spending more time in noisy environments or have changed jobs or living arrangements. Also, as new technology continues to emerge, you may find that new hearing aids have features that your current ones don’t, and you’re interested in the new features.

Whatever your reason for considering changing your hearing aids, your audiologist at Melbourne Audiology Centre will be happy to discuss our options with you.

You may also be interested in the latest hearing aids from Oticon – the Oticon Real Range.

The Latest in Hearing Aids Research

US Study Uncovers Prevalence of Hearing Loss and Lack of Hearing Aid Usage

A Recent study has examined the prevalence of hearing loss among older adults in the United States. Overall, the study revealed an alarming rate of hearing loss, particularly for adults over 80, and a low level of people within this group receiving treatment.

The study reveals hearing loss is widespread among adults aged 71 and above, with 65.3% (equivalent to 21.5 million people) experiencing some level of impairment. Plus, an astounding 96.2% have hearing loss by age 90; however, only 29.2% of individuals with hearing loss utilised hearing aids, highlighting a substantial gap in addressing this issue adequately.

This study suggests that while the majority of older adults are experiencing some level of hearing loss, only a small percentage have hearing aid support.

Hearing Aids may Slow Risk of Cognitive Decline

Findings from the Aging and Cognitive Health Evaluation in Elders (ACHIEVE) study revealed that in a specific subset of participants, hearing intervention mitigated cognitive decline by 48% among older adults with mild to moderate hearing loss.

Presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2023 in Amsterdam on July 18, these results mark a significant advancement, as the ACHIEVE Study is the largest clinical trial assessing hearing aid efficacy in reducing long-term cognitive decline in older adults.

Book Your Hearing Test at MAC Today

Is the world you hear less clear than it used to be? If so, your ears are in good hands here at Melbourne Audiology Centre. Our audiologists are experienced and knowledgeable in all things hearing, and our staff are always ready to welcome you into our caring and supportive environment.

When you’d like to hear more clearly and make the most of what life has to offer, come to see us in one of our eight locations across Melbourne.